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EUFF 2018: “Tonio” (2016) ★★★★


© September Film

Losing a loved one is never easy. To say goodbye for the very last time is the most difficult thing ever. And if that dearest one is an only child, the level of pain can’t ever be described in words. “Tonio”, based on A.F. Th. Van der Heijden’s novel and directed by Paula van der Oest perfectly describes what every parent gets after losing a child – the long term company of grief, sorrow and a crying heart.

Tonio is an incredibly talented young man. In fact, he is just a 21 year old student who has lots going on in his mind. He constantly keeps changing his mind about his future career but loves photography and filmmaking. His parents, Miriam and Adri, simply adore him. Tonio is clearly the brightest light of their life but sadly, a tragic traffic accident is about to bring darkness to their life with zero chances of recovery.

First, we meet Tonio at his parents’ home. His father is so busy with his work that he rewards his son’s presence with his back turned to him. It was not intentional, of course. The mother, of course, has her daily routine to take care of. She thinks life will continue as it does when Tonio leaves home to fulfil his day. Next day, their door is knocked on by the police to deliver a news – Tonio was struck by a car early morning while he was riding his bike. While the young man was still alive, his condition continues worsening to the level where the doctors refuse to fight for his life.

Adri and Miriam are devastated. As the mother goes through her most difficult moments, Adri begins reconstructing the last day of his son to bring some closure to the bleeding in his heart due to the loss, but no matter how much he learns about his son, there’s nothing that can bring him back, except the refusal of accepting the loss and continue living with him in constant and vivid memories. Adri, as a novelist, brings to light a whole different level of suffering and the agony of losing their only child by letting his entire existence disappear along with his mind.

“Tonio” is an incredibly sad movie to watch. With perfect direction from director, Paula van der Oest, the movies gets the darkest tone to transport the viewer to the world of grieving parents, their way of coping with loss and the life of a young man that was so abruptly interrupted. Through flashbacks, the viewer begins understanding the strong connection between Tonio and his parents, which explains why both of them struggle with regrets and sorrow. They realize they might not have known much about their son. But whatever they do or the knowledge they gain, is not going to ease the pain.

In conclusion, “Tonio” is a deeply moving movie about strong bonds of parents and their child. It is a heartbreaking and devastating movie at every level, yet, there’s no moment when you as a viewer will ever want to interrupt your journey no matter how painful it becomes. As for the moral of the story, what else can be told other than the hope that no one ever has to go through what Adri and Miriam had to, throughout the movie. But saying that might be a bit of childish of me. But at least, with movies like “Tonio”, we learn how to cherish the moments with loved ones, never turn our back on them, and even if we’re too busy, it’s always important to give a smile to the person who is about to go to work or school or anywhere else. Because at the end of the day, regret will be the most uncompromising companion throughout life, and as a stubborn, uninvited guest, will never want to leave the house.

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