top of page


Building up excruciatingly long to a pivotal scene you see coming a mile off, Flemish literary adaptation When It Melts is as predictable as it is boring, annoying and pointless.

In 2016 Lize Spit's debut novel Het Smelt became a literary sensation in Flanders and the Netherlands, selling about 200,000 copies in its native language. I never read the book, but based on film adaptation When It Melts one can only question the sanity of everyone who made the novel into a bestseller.

The story flipflops back and forth between the wintery present and the summery teenage years of lead character Eva. Clearly something went awfully wrong in her youth and now Eva sets out for revenge, with a mysterious huge block of ice in the trunk of her car.

Well, I say 'mysterious', but anyone with half a brain will figure out pretty quickly what the ice will be used for, which is just one of the many problems with When It Melts. The long list also includes a total lack of likeable characters, the pedestrian pace, the irritating constant use of an 'eerie, forboding' soundtrack and debut director Veerle Baetens' inability to shoot any scene in anything else but shaky-cam close-up.

Baetens, who also co-scripted the film, never finds a rhythm for the narrative and it takes her the best part of 90 minutes to get to the one scene that matters the most, only to completely bungle the impact of the sequence - and of the resoundingly unbelievable denouement that follows.

Yet what I abhorred most about When It Melts is the morally problematic message it ultimately conveys. Revenge might be a dish best served cold, but - not unlike another film I detested: Promising Young Woman - When It Melts appears to imply that choosing to be a victim trumps everything else.

release: 2023

director: Veerle Baetens

starring: Charlotte De Bruyn, Rosa Marchant, Olga Leyers, Spencer Bogaert


bottom of page