Review: Forever Rich

Updated: Apr 1


Director: Shady El-Hamus

Writers: Shady El-Hamus, Jeroen Scholten van Aschat

Genre: Comedy-Drama, Thriller

Cast: Hadewych Minis, Jonas Smulders, Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing, Daniël Kolf, Sinem Kavus, Mustafa Duygulu

Release year: 2021

Runtime: 89 minutes


Firstly, I am just excited that I was able to watch and understand this film without subtitles. Mind you there is an English version. Themes of fame, fakeness, and social media flamboyance are tackled here with a lighthearted level of sincerity. While the moral of the story is lost in the haphazardness of the film, one gets a good sense of what the filmmakers were trying to say.


Occurring over the space of one evening, the film follows Richie, a big-time Dutch rapper who is about to sign a huge deal with Sony. After Richie prematurely celebrates his success with his entourage which includes his mom, girlfriend, and best bud Tonie, he is robbed by masked hooligans and starts crying while his attackers film him. The whole thing is posted online and Richie is suddenly not seen as the gangsta he pretended to be. In a bid to avenge himself and regain his street cred, Richie goes after the gang who mugged him.


The main character Richie, who is convincingly played by Jonas Smulders, is flawed and pathetic at times. This could work if an unlikeable character still manages to elicit some sort of empathy from the audience. I'm not sure if Rich manages to do this. If you know Dutch people, then Richie's white male privilege will be all too familiar. If you can look past this, then you will find redeeming moments, particularly towards the end when Rich finally realizes the error of his ways. Though this shift may be too little too late.


The film can come off as problematic in its attempt to mimic the hardcore hazards of the hip-hop scene. To be fair, Amsterdam is a suburb compared to places like 90s-hip-hop-era Compton. While one gets the sense that the filmmakers are using Richie's character to poke fun at the cultural appropriation of white rappers, this is not fleshed out enough. The film does take liberties and inadvertently perpetuates the very thing it purports to be critiquing.


However, this is once again to be expected in the Dutch context. Without being an apologist, it helps to know that the Dutch just don't know better, or rather, that they refuse to know better. So you might as well just enjoy this film for what it is. If you can look past the pitfalls, and lower your standards, then the film will entertain you.


As if it hadn't already gotten enough shade, the film has also been criticized for its messy cinematography, but I think this is its best asset. The shaky handheld scenes and jarring cuts make the theme of social media more urgent and believeable. Still, Forever Rich is mediocre at best. Then again, so are most films being hyped up nowadays.




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