Klokkenluider review: a journalist visits a government whistleblower

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Neil Maskell’s directorial debut, Klokkenluider, masterfully mixes comedy with existential dread – here’s our review.

The government, eh? It’s easy to forget in this era of petty party politics and [insert name of current Prime Minister], but these people have pretty important jobs. They must know all sorts of secrets, terrifying truths that would make us mere mortals quiver in our boots. That’s very much the set up for Neil Maskell’s directorial debut, Klokkenluider, in which government whistle-blower Ewan (Amit Shah) and his wife Silke (Sura Dohnke) must wait for a journalist to take their story in a remote Belgian holiday home, with only their thoughts and a pair of hapless bodyguards (Roger Evans and Tom Burke) for company.   

It’s a situation that we can all, depressingly, relate to: four incredibly stressed people, afraid to leave the house, bickering between themselves and drinking too much. As a foursome the group work well together, running the full gamut from jovial drinking buddy to teetering on the edge of sanity. Whatever news Ewan found on a civil servant’s PC, it spooked him pretty good, and Shah’s constantly terrified manner adds a hard edge to the comic relief even while he’s playing charades with a couple of hired guns. The script even works in plenty of one-on-ones, so their relationships get a good level of exploration by the time Jenna Coleman’s journalist arrives and throws a hilariously sweary spanner in the works.

The balance of comedy with moments of existential dread is almost clinically well done. Beat for beat Klokkenluider is a really impressively made thriller, which you’d think would be a barrier for anything approaching a belly-laugh. Enter Evans’ and Burke’s pair of unnamed close protection officers, who provide most of the comedy beats with the exasperation and cold fury of an old married couple. And while Evans initially looks to be little more than a bumbling sidekick from the off, a few choice character moments mean he’s just as sympathetic as the rest of them by the end.

It’s impressively assured stuff for Maskell’s debut feature, and that it was all accomplished during lockdown in almost one single location is all the more remarkable. The tightrope scripts like this have to walk is a perilous one, but between Klokkenluider and All My Friends Hate Me, it’s turning out to be a stellar year for the British indie comedy/thriller.

Klokkenluider is in cinemas on 1st September.

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