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OPENING MARCH 31
Could the most tolerant country on earth be something of a bore? Maybe not, but this one-dimensional documentary celebrating it certainly is. Filmmaker Jonathan Blank says his portrait of Holland is free of conflict because the country itself is, and there’s something to that. Certainly in most Western countries it would be impossible to assemble a cast of bourgeois talking heads—among them lawyers, professors, a police commissioner, a judge, a senator, a priest, and a lesbian cantor—to shrug benignly about open hashish use, legal prostitution, live sex clubs, gay marriage, abortion, and euthanasia. (What do the Dutch oppose? Female circumcision is about the only thing Blank could find.) Holland’s low rate of hard-drug addiction and incarceration is a rebuke to more Puritan nations, and it’s commendable if Amsterdam has achieved the easy multicultural, multiracial mix this film says it has. But shouldn’t Blank have mentioned the Dutch housing policies that led to riots not that long ago, or reports of violent Eastern European takeovers of the Amsterdam prostitution industry? Avoiding such issues, he hurries us instead to the Tattoo Museum, nude beaches, hemp-research farms, and the Banana Bar, where lithe young women put the tropical fruit to a novel use. At the Key Theater, 1222 Wisconsin Ave. NW. (202) 333-5100. (Mark Jenkins)