Cart. schreef 24 april 1981 in de Variety


The spectacle of a man and woman ending a relationship can be either one of the most intense or banal dramatic events and, despite its unusual structure and lead character, "Splitting Up" leans more toward the latter. Dutch singer-songwriter Herman van Veen, who stars here and also directed, is considered a major talent in Europe, but his unknown status Stateside provides no springboard for the rather arid pic here.

Story's trajectory is simple in the extreme - a popular celebrity, comparable perhaps to a combination of Paul Simon and Charles Aznavour, feels ennui setting in on his marriage for vague reasons, fools around a little, experiences separation pangs mainly due to his young son, and ultimately salvages something from the ordeal by putting his feelings into song.

Tale is told via flashback, with van Veen relating the sad events to an obnoxious hitchhiker he had known years before in school and who evidently was once involved with latter's wife, but this creates only a superficial complexity and adds little to density of meaning.
Similarly, van Veen seemingly intends for his tunes, shown being delivered to highly enthusiastic audiences, to relate impressively to developments in his personal life. While potentially intriguing, approach fails to pay off sufficiently, and one finally tires of witnessing all those standing ovations offered to performances which elicit equivocal responses at best.

On the plus side, occasional scenes do possess an understated force, such as a dinner party among friends which degenerates into nasty, drunken innuendo, an afternoon sortie during which van Veen takes his son to an auditorium to play with recording equiment, and an amusing interview session wherein a fatuous reporter does all the talking and leaves without having obtained more than a word or two from his subject.

But on the whole, van Veen has thinned out his material to a minimum and refused to generate either sympathy for or understanding of himself or the other characters. Lovely Monique van de Ven is largely wasted as his wife, although Marlous Fluitsma has a couple of sharp moments as a forthright philanderer.
Van Veen's directoria style is exceedingly clean and precise, so problem is more one of establishing a strong attitude and p.o.v. Pic is said to be first European production to make use of Dolby sound, and choice pays off in concert sequences.

Variety, 24 april 1981

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