5 best Dutch films on Netflix (for learning Dutch!)
You heard right - you can improve your Dutch by watching TV! Of course, you’re never going to get fluent by simply sitting on your butt and binging Netflix (trust us, we tried and failed). For that, you’ll probably need to take a Dutch course. But, watching Dutch films is a great way to learn more about the culture and history of the Netherlands.
Plus, it allows to you to get used to the way the language is spoken in the “real world” (i.e. at a billion miles an hour). It’s a good way to get your ear in, improve your pronunciation and pick up some extra pieces of vocabulary. Best of all, as all of the following recommendations are available on Netflix in the Netherlands, you don’t even need to leave your sofa.
To save you the work, we’ve trawled through the catalogues to find the best Dutch films out there (and made sure they all have English subtitles!) So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. Here’s our top five recommendations.
1. Loving Ibiza (Verliefd op Ibiza)
Sun, sea, parties and beautiful people - Loving Ibiza is escapism at its finest. Film snobs, however, might do best to look away... It is fantastically silly, but this crowd-pleasing, ensemble romantic comedy makes for a truly entertaining 110 minutes.
The characters all descend on the party island of Ibiza in pursuit of sunshine, adventure and love: footballer Kevin, down-to-earth event planner Lizzy, recently-divorced Jacky, former rock star Lex, and brothers Dylan and Boyd, who dream of becoming a world-class DJ duo. The four storylines come to a climax at a hip club night (featuring a cameo from DJ Armin van Buuren). It’s the perfect choice for a Saturday night in.
2. The Resistance Banker (Bankier van het Verzet)
Witnessing the devastation wreaked by the Nazi occupation of his homeland, Dutch banker Walraven van Hall decides to fight back using his unique skill set: he comes up with a method of surreptitiously financing the Dutch resistance. What starts out as a phoney “Sailor’s Fund” quickly develops into the biggest fraud in the history of Dutch banking. The bigger the operation gets, the higher the stakes and the riskier it becomes.
Based on a true story, this drama sheds light on a relatively unknown aspect of the war. As you would expect, there are dramatic Nazi raids, secret meetings and narrow escapes. But the film also has an understated quality in its fascinating exploration of the underground logistics of resistance: for all its focus on heroics and dramatic deeds, the Resistance Banker serves as a powerful reminder that even resisting evil has a price tag.
** Unfortunately, since the time of writing the Resistance Banker has been removed from Netflix, but is still available elsewhere.
3. Bon Bini Holland
Robertico Florentina is a charming crook who runs a small-scale scam business on the tropical island of Curaçao. His brainchild, Bon Bini Bungalows, makes money by letting fancy houses to tourists - without the owner’s knowledge.
When some of Robertico’s guests trash a villa belonging to the local mob, he is dispatched to Rotterdam to come up with 200.000 Dutch guilders in damages. Posing as a slick entrepreneur, he attempts to obtain an investment from businessman Ken Maduro. His new plan falters, however, when he falls for Ken’s daughter.
A very successful Dutch comedy film, Bon Bini Holland is incredibly goofy, but it can’t fail to raise a laugh. The star, Dutch comedian Jandino Asporaat, has acquired a huge cult following in the Netherlands for his unique style of stand-up comedy and his sketch shows, from which many of the film’s characters originate.
4. Riphagen - The Untouchable (Riphagen)
It may be another film about World War Two in the Netherlands, but Riphagen - The Untouchable is more than deserving of your time for its focus on a troublesome - and often underacknowledged - aspect of history: Dutch collaboration with the Nazi regime.
This chilling thriller (primarily shot in Utrecht) tells the true story of Dries Riphagen, a callous criminal who collaborated with Nazi occupiers by hunting down Jews who had gone into hiding. By befriending them and gaining their trust, he is able to convince them to hand over their treasured possessions before betraying them to the Nazis.
As he quietly amasses a small fortune, Riphagen’s activities arouse the suspicions of a young policeman, Jan van Liempd. His determined attempts to bring Riphagen to justice turn into a deadly cat-and-mouse game that will leave you on the edge of your seat.
5. Layla M
Born and raised in Amsterdam, 18-year-old Layla is smart, stubborn and idealistic. Struggling to square her religious beliefs with a society that seems increasingly intolerant of them, she becomes enamoured with a group of radical Muslims and flees to Jordan. What she finds, however, is an intensely patriarchal society that stifles her intrinsic need to control her own fate.
Layla M is a fascinating, perceptive and even-handed portrait of one girl’s radicalisation. Exceptionally timely amid the twin mounting threats of terrorism and Islamophobia, the film explores complicated issues of identity and equality in a measured manner that is far from didactic or sensationalised.
** Unfortunately, since the time of writing Layla M has been removed from Netflix, but is still available elsewhere.
Start watching and improving your Dutch!
While historical films are generally easier to follow as the actors tend to enunciate words more clearly, modern films allow you to pick up slang words and styles of pronunciation you may not have heard before. Watching a mixture of both, therefore, is the most beneficial to your language learning. Happy watching - keep practising and soon you’ll be able to turn those subtitles off!
Have you seen any good Dutch films recently? Let us know in the comments below!