Alex van Warmerdam’s award-winning second feature is set in a remote small Dutch village in the early 1960s. The village is actually just one street of a new town that was never completed, and the behavior of its inhabitants is invariably determined by their unsolved sexual problems, leading to a number of comic situations depicted in a tradition of absurdist black humor.
Father Dan, an aging priest whose parish is in the slums, is warned by his church-superior to improve his own and the parish financial position rather than giving all he has to members of his congregation and strangers, or he will be transferred. In spite of this warning he becomes involved with a couple of race-track bums, a newly-wed ex-convict with job problems, and a bank-robbery of which he is accused. None of this sets well with the monsignor.
To escape sinful impulses, Ben Harvey, a callow youth, leaves his small town for Chicago in 1910. A pickpocket promptly relieves him of his money, and he nearly starves before Queen Lil takes him under her wing, gives him a room in her high-class bordello, and gets him a job at a newspaper. He’s so sweet and dumb, he thinks Lil’s is a boarding house. He’s soon caught up in an electoral struggle between a secretly corrupt reformer and an openly corrupt councilman.
Bobby Lee is beginning to feel hemmed in — his wife has lost some of her appeal and his friends and family keep viewing him like the forty-year-old he will soon be. After his father dies, he is unable to take it anymore, and he hooks up with a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader on a trip to that city. He may have traded in his business suite for denim, jeans, and cowboy boots, but he soon finds that a real transformation is not so easy.
Léon, a humble civil servant, has the unusual ability to walk through walls, however thick they are. One day, he falls madly in love with a charming hotel thief by the name of Suzan. In order to impress her he poses as Garou-Garou, a dangerous gangster. Mistaken for him, he is arrested and sent to jail but he, of course, leaves his cell (and comes back to it) just as he likes, infuriating the prison warden. But, despite this wonderful gift, he remains shy in the presence of Suzan.
The Age of Insects follows the metamorphosis of a young delinquent forced by his parents to undergo dubious “orthopodization” treatments from an insect-obsessed doctor.
A weary British reporter is sent on assignment to Ireland, while in a remote village he hears a man’s voice emanating from a deep well. The voice turns out to be a modern-day oracle, gifted with the ability to foresee the future.
Julius Vrooder returns from the Vietnam War, pretending to be crazy to cope with the world which lands him in a VA hospital. He locates a tunnel where he creates a bunker existence complete with electricity while also falling in love with his doctor.