Fantastic Fest 2012 Review: PLAN C Is A Sly Anti-Caper

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas (@peteramartin)
Fantastic Fest 2012 Review: PLAN C Is A Sly Anti-Caper

Police work has rarely looked more like an ordinary office job than it does in the wryly amusing Plan C, where the desks are stuffed side by side in cramped spaces, bureaucracy reigns, and bald, middle-aged Ronald has lost his mojo.

Ronald (Ruben van der Meer) is suffering from a stifling case of mid-life ennui. His ex-wife has remarried a successful author, his young son is become more distant, he has fallen behind on his police reports, and his leisure time is devoted to poker -- which he claims is not gambling, but a skill. It's a skill he's been sadly lacking for nearly a year, though, and, as a result, his Chinese loan shark has lost all patience over a $10,000 debt.

Desperate for money, Ronald concocts a scheme to rob the illegal poker parlor he frequents, enlisting the assistance of Gerrit (Rene van 't Hof), a low-level criminal. Gerrit, in turn, recruits Bram (Ton Kas), who doesn't appear terribly bright. Surely the scheme is destined for failure!

Written and directed by Max Porcelijn, Plan C is deviously slight. Ronald himself is, at first, a disreputable character, a lazy sort who hasn't accomplished much of anything. He lacks integrity, selling drugs taken as evidence from crime scenes to Gerrit to feed his poker habit. He's an undependable father, making promises to his son that he doesn't keep. He's not even good or efficient at reducing the small mounds of paperwork that litter his desk. And the role he envisions for himself in the robbery is simply to sit on his butt while Gerrit and Bram take all the risks.

Things go badly, of course - spectacularly so - setting up a conflict between the thoroughly hapless Ronald and aggressively dim witted Bram that builds to a dryly hilarious and typically incompetent finale.

What carries Porcelijn's film is not just the dry wit but the seeds of poignance planted early which eventually blossom. Ronald, a passive personality who can only solve his problems in his daydreams, has a soul after all; it's just been buried under the wearisome burdens of everyday living. He never transforms into an action hero, or magically gains a conscience, but we become more aware that, given the opportunity, he really does want what's best for his family, to provide something for his son, even if it's not all that he desires.

Plan C suggests that Ronald might break out and become a better person, a better father, and a better police officer. And, surprisingly, I also found myself rooting that this particular asshole might become a little bit less of an asshole ... some day.

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