Tulipani: Love, Honour, and a Bicycle is a Dutch romance film that perfectly balances its whimsical outlook on life with heartfelt drama. Set in Puglia, Italy, the film tells the story of a Dutch man named Gauke starting a new life after a devastating flood in his home town. The overall result is a brilliant comedy with affecting characters, gorgeous visuals, and powerful themes.

Tulipani opens with a confounding shot of a redheaded woman named Anna (Ksenia Solo) hanging out of a Piaggio Ape, backside scraped or burned, hysterically laughing. After arriving at a local hospital, a police investigator confronts the girl about a Zippo lighter he found at a crime scene. Once she admits that it is hers, he charges Anna with murder. Anna’s friend, Piero and his Mother, loudly protest, explaining that there is a story that explains everything – a story 30 years in the making! Anna corrects them; for her, the story only goes back nine days or so.

The remainder of the film jumps back-and-forth between the present, the story that began when Anna came to Italy to spread her mother’s ashes, and the story that began 30 years ago when Anna’s father Gauke (Gijs Naber) came to Puglia to start a new life. These stories are inter-weaved expertly, full of humor and heart, and absolutely wonderful. The film is not all sunshine and tulips, but the hardships that do occur feel earned and important.

The most impressive aspect of Tulipani is its attention to detail. Characters have tics and foibles, there are numerous callbacks and pay-offs, and the entire film feels expertly put together. It’s a thoroughly pleasant movie-going experience.

Tulipani: Love, Honour, and a Bicycle is on the short-list of films being considered for The Netherlands’ entry for Best Foreign Language film at the 90th Academy Awards; it’s a shoo-in for that. This is the type of movie that earns an Oscar nomination.

Sunday, September 10, 12:30 PM, Ryerson Theatre
Tuesday, September 12, 6:15 PM, Scotiabank 11

Tickets can be purchased at the TIFF website.