Photo: ‘Dirty Lines’
Our Obsession With Zany Entrepreneurs Continues
Tis the season for a series revolving around complicated visionary business leaders willing to risk it all for a slice of the pie. No different from Elizabeth Holmes as portrayed in ‘The Dropout’ or Adam Neumann in ‘WeCrashed’, ‘Dirty Lines’ follows the story of Frank and Ramon Stigter, two very different but equally odd brothers who created Europe’s first-ever phone sex line.
Paying closer attention to Frank, who is the brains behind the idea, the story is a compelling and fascinating expression of creativity and the will to persevere in spite of tremendous odds. After running several other businesses that he either created on his own or selling the products of other more successful companies, Frank as portrayed by Minne Koole is inspired to shake up the sex work industry with his idea of creating these erotic phone lines.
Frank is an interesting character, seemingly at odds and uncomfortable with his life and constantly looking for the next score and hustle. He has finally found one he is willing to settle and grow with however with Teledutch. Koole is game for the task of bringing the larger-than-life character of Frank to the screen and is impressive in his effortless portrayal. He elicits a calm and coolness about him, all the while seething underneath in his desires to make his business succeed as it consumes everything around him.
Equally as intense though not as flashy as his brother, Ramon, as played by Chris Peters is undergoing a crisis of his own. The more conservative and focused of the two brothers, Ramon is constantly at odds with trying to balance Frank out and ensure the business is able to succeed. The actors make a good pairing and share a decent amount of onscreen chemistry, making both their connection as brothers and as business partners palpable and realistic.
Something the show does a really nice job of expressing is each character going through their own different form of internal sexual enlightenment. Frank and Ramon both seemingly live incredibly happy lives with their wives and Ramon even has a child, but these brothers are fascinatingly still in search of something else. Whether that will be the financial success of Teledutch or something else remains to be seen, but whatever it is feels uniquely tied to their sexual personalities.
‘Dirty Lines’ – Not This Generation’s Amsterdam
They drop a version of this line in the show, but it is an interesting visual of what the city was at this time in the late 1980s. While American capitalism was thriving, Amsterdam is depicted as a place very much trying to figure itself out. Very far from the amazing tourism the city and country of the Netherlands have come to embrace today, the city was a very tough place to live.
On the opposite end of the character spectrum in regards to coolness is Marly, played by Joy Delima. Marly is a University student and self-described “prude”, unwilling and unable to talk or think about sex without becoming severely uncomfortable. Marly is an outcast even amongst her closest friends who flippantly sleep around and discuss their own sexual escapades. Delima is very strong in the part, which requires her to be equally soft and gentle while also trying to find her grittier edge as she finds herself in what at the time were the mean streets of Amsterdam.
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Marly works up the courage to try to become of the women on the recording end of the erotic phone line in an attempt to find gainful work so she can move out of her parents’ place in the suburbs and move in with her friends in the city. Delima is very impressive in the scene, showing all the emotions someone in her position would be feeling walking into the Teledutch waiting room. She is sincere in portraying the character’s shyness and anxiety in not knowing what she has gotten herself into. Her timidness is palpable and relatable, and the show makes an interesting choice to lean into it. Whereas in a different show or movie this would be taken as the origin story or breakthrough moment where a character finds their hidden talent and embraces the moment, Marly remains very much herself.
‘Dirty Lines’ – Netflix’s Embrace of International Series
It is pointing out the obvious to state that Netflix needs to start generating better content if the company is going to survive the mergers and acquisitions by other streamers that have been outpacing them this year. In spite of other launches like ‘Inventing Anna’ and ‘Bridgerton’, it certainly feels like Netflix is losing out on the content streaming game. Their need to diversify and find talent from around the globe has been an interesting model that has lent itself to success previously.
From sourcing shows like ‘Skins’ from the UK and their most recent smash hit ‘Squid Games’ from Korea, Netflix has opened a very niche door from which their content can flow. ‘Dirty Lines’ is certainly of the same ilk and stands out as another example for the company of what can work.
While I enjoyed the ‘Dirty Lines’ watching experience as a whole, I could not help but notice the ADR and overdub issues that befell it. With the series being shot and conceptualized in the Netherlands, the actors’ lines were dubbed over into English and in some instances, it is particularly apparent. I felt the same way when watching ‘Squid Games’ and I frankly don’t know why Netflix would go through the trouble of doing this. One of the things to me that is so cool and authentic about shows from other countries where the native language is spoken, and when it is dubbed like this a lot of the romance of that is lost.
I know Netflix doesn’t need any notes from me for the success of their business model, but as a movie like ‘Parasite’ showed us, if the content within is good enough, people shouldn’t care about reading subtitles if need be. I think this would greatly aid in a lot of their streaming content from other countries and may help people gain and normalize an appreciation for this different method of delivery. However, that is just the two cents of this writer. All the episodes of ‘Dirty Lines”, the fun new provocative series, are now streaming on Netflix.
By Mark Raymond
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Mark Raymond is a writer and screenwriter who believes himself to be the only person desiring to work in film who originated in New York and currently resides in Los Angeles. Mark was inspired to write from a young age and has always desired to connect and uplift others through his work, as those that motivated him did for him. Mark feels very strongly that the world could use a lot more positivity and optimism, and is therefore very aligned to the mission of The Hollywood Insider to not spread hate or gossip, but instead to build each other up and shine a positive light on anyone bold enough to put their heart and soul into a piece of art. In his writing, Mark aims to use his signature wit to highlight the severity of the more serious and pressing issues of our time, to shine a beacon of light through the darkness. A devoted ally to all, he seeks to inspire and use his platform to give a voice to the voiceless and let his readers know that while everything may not be great right now, one day it can and will be.