Hardcore Never Dies, about Rotterdam gays in the nineties, was made with a lot of bravado and an eye for detail

Jim Deddes in ‘Hardcore Never Dies’ by Jim Taihuttu.

“Just look up what Nietzsche said about Beethoven,” a conservatory teacher says to 17-year-old Michael (Joes Brauers), who has just auditioned for piano training. According to the teacher, Michael has a nice technique, but the feeling is missing.

Hardcore Never Dies is set in the early 1990s, so to look something up Michael has to go to the library. He eventually manages to find the quote about Beethoven. Is about the Ninth Symphonymusic that, according to Nietzsche, can give the feeling of floating among the stars, further and further from earth, dreaming of immortality.

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Pauline Kleijer has been prescribing since 1999 de Volkskrant about film. The book was published by her Cinema Express: about train films and film trains.

By then, Michael’s older brother Danny (Jim Deddes) has introduced him to the gabber scene in Rotterdam. The subculture with its performed house music, more than 160 beats per minute, quickly has Michael under control. The hard hardcore lifts him higher than Beethoven ever managed. That, and the ecstasy pills of course.

For Danny, a guy from the very beginning (shaved head, Aussie track jacket and Nike Air Max), a bourgeois life is far too oppressive. His parents kicked him out of the house early on. Michael is at a crossroads. The free life of Danny and his girlfriend Priscilla (Rosa Stil) seems tempting, but he soon becomes involved in his brother’s pill business. His father’s warnings may be justified.

Jim Taihuttu made his debut in 2011 with the road movie together with Victor D. Ponten Rabat and then single-handedly directed the critically acclaimed crime film Wolf (2013) and the war drama The East (2021), about the colonial war in the Dutch East Indies. With this film about Rotterdam gabbers, Taihuttu remains true to a well-known theme: once again it is about growing boys looking for something to hold on to.

Hardcore Never Dies was made with a lot of bravado and an eye for detail. The image of the era is correct, from shoes and hairstyles to the recreated interior of the long-demolished Rotterdam Energy Hall. Precisely because the old hardcore culture is so cleverly brought to life, it is disappointing that the film does not delve very deeply into it: the crime plot, which could just as easily have taken place somewhere else, ultimately dominates. In addition, Michael’s dilemma is played out in a rather predictable manner.

A serious ode to gabber culture Hardcore Never Dies that didn’t end there – hopefully such a film will come in the future. What Taihuttu does excellently is portray an environment full of believable and memorable losers and dreamers. The character Danny, played with manic energy by Deddes, is one not to be forgotten. To get out of debt, he always chooses to flee forward, until he completely reaches beyond his control. A masterclass in escapism.

Hardcore Never Dies is above all an impressive account of the desire for ecstasy: from the search for the high to the price that must be paid. A trip to the stars usually ends with a fall to Earth.

Hardcore Never Dies



Regie Jim Taihuttu.

With Jim Deddes, Joes Brauers, Rosa Stil, Jordy Dijkshoorn.

108 min., in 106 screens.

The post first appeared on www.volkskrant.nl

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