MOVIE REVIEW – Directed by Tim Mielants and adapted from Jeroen Olyslaegers’ novel of the same name for Netflix, Will unfolds as a profound and thought-provoking drama, marking one of this year’s standout European premieres. The narrative transports us to the heart of Antwerp under Nazi occupation, following a Belgian policeman striving to find his place and survive the perilous times. The cast features a host of renowned Belgian talents such as Stef Aerts, Jan Bijvoet, Annelore Crollet, Matteo Simoni, and Kevin Janssens.
The film delves into the human side of historical events through the life of Wilfried Wils, or “Wil” for short, highlighting the difficulty of judging past events without having lived through those times. Wil’s story acts as a mirror, linking past events with present-day dilemmas, prompting reflection from the audience.
Violence and Moral Crisis in Antwerp
Set in 1942 Antwerp under Nazi occupation, Wil begins his career as an auxiliary policeman. New recruits are advised to survive by staying in the background and not interfering with the Nazi-imposed order. However, the situation complicates when a Nazi officer, known as a Feldgendarm, seeks Wil and his colleague Lode’s assistance to arrest a Jewish family. A tragic turn of events occurs when Lode accidentally kills the officer, further complicating the trust between the two policemen.
Wil’s journey continues as he semi-joins the resistance and starts a relationship with Lode’s sister, Yvette, showcasing the challenges of finding the right path and maintaining human values in a world fraught with danger. Tim Mielants is renowned for directing dark-themed works like “Peaky Blinders” and “The Terror,” and Will similarly tackles challenging subjects without shying away from depicting violence, always in service of exploring the depths of the human soul.
Top-Notch Performances and Direction
Stef Aerts delivers a compelling portrayal of Wilfried Wils’ complex inner world, navigating the depths of the human spirit and the dilemmas faced by his character. Aerts’ performance spans the full range of emotions experienced by the protagonist, from hope to despair, making his portrayal a defining element of the film. Annelore Crollet dazzles as the idealistic Yvette, captivating the audience with her presence on screen each time, infusing the film with her character’s strength and vulnerability. Crollet’s portrayal speaks to Yvette’s courage and desire to preserve humanity in the toughest times.
As a director, Tim Mielants proves once again his ability to depict deep human stories and complex characters on screen. With Will, Mielants not only creates a historical drama but also a work that questions human nature, morality, and the choices people are forced to make for survival. The film’s visual style and storytelling reflect Mielants’ unique vision, presenting challenging themes in new and intriguing ways.
Why Will Matters?
Will is more than just a historical drama; it’s a piece that encourages viewers to reflect on the strength and weakness of the human spirit and the moral dilemmas faced throughout history. Wil, as an ordinary man wanting to do right, represents the deep human desires and fears with which everyone can identify. The film’s raw and honest portrayal of life during World War II and the consequences of human decisions speaks not only of the past but also of how these decisions shape our present and future.
Will is an exceptional film that, beyond historical accuracy, places significant emphasis on depicting deep human emotions and conflicts. It masterfully combines historical context with eternal questions of the human soul, not only recalling past events but also illuminating how human decisions, courage, and vulnerability shape history and individual destinies.
-Gergely Herpai (BadSector)-