The First Kiss
“Dust” is coming of age story that naïve, bare and unedited and it compellingly captures the exact moments between adult hood and childhood when the familiar people, places and bodies of earlier years no longer fit together. It is painful to watch but impossible to look away as it zooms in on every clumsy emotion.
Alko (Henk Jan Doombosch) work on a Dutch vegetable farm with his frustrated peers and he feels stranded between kid’s hangouts and inaccessible adult venues. He knows what he wants to try (kissing, sex and girls) but is not sure how to get them. In a narrow, claustrophobic world where only the limitations are visible, he finally gets the chance for a first kiss from one of the girls he works with. It seems to go well and she promises that sex will be the gift at her imminent 16th birthday. This fills Alko with happiness rather than confidence he is trippingly eager for the next step.
Bjorn (Liam Feikens), Alko’s childhood friend, is also eager to push forward on this kissing “business”. He has been practicing on his hand, and showing Alko how whenever he can. His kiss with a girl wins her praise but from his needy glances and fumbles with Alko it is evident that Alko is who he would really prefer. We see a lot of emotions and pain in almost every encounter. Bjorn goes in for an unreciprocated drunken kiss with Alko. When Alko’s girlfriend hears about it, she dumps him. Alko’s other friends work themselves into a homophobic frenzy which he guiltily redirects towards Bjorn.
Doombosch is well cast as an unknowing teen with great need. He manages to communicate a soft heterosexuality that mourns the split from a gay friend. A sad lingering look shows how unfair it is that one of his prized first kisses, with a close friend he likes, will be considered ugly because it was same sex.
“Dust” is an intimate and honest film. The loose and episodic editing makes it real. The performances are realistically unpolished. Everything adults try to forget from being a teen is remembered with heart and without filter. It tells the beautiful, bittersweet coming-of-age story of Alko and Björn, best friends who live in a small rural community. Between agricultural weekend work and partying, the teenage kids of the village are all yearning for their ‘first time’. Director Joren Molter proves himself as an exciting new talent to watch in his film in which boys are expected to be boys, yet are oftentimes something more.