Adapted from a classic novel by Ferdinand Bordewijk, this sombre, handsome costume pic set in turn of the century Rotterdam is distinguished by Jan Decleir's superb character turn as the villainous bailiff, Dreverhaven, who thinks nothing of evicting the poor, the elderly and the infirm from their homes. He's a forbidding figure with a touch of the Old Testament prophet. He seems determined to destroy his illegitimate son, a self-taught lawyer who likewise hates him. At times, the naturalistic detail is cluttering and leaves the film looking like a museum piece, but as oedipal drama, this is dark and often strangely powerful. (Winner of the 1998 foreign language Oscar.