Faithfully Yours: Is the Dutch Movie Based on a Real Life Crime?

Directed by André van Duren, Netflix’s Dutch film ‘Faithfully Yours’ follows best friends Bodil and Isabel, who go for a vacation in Belgium without their respective husbands. After arriving in Ostend, Isabel leaves for dealing with several secret affairs upon asking Bodil to create fake alibis for her using her mobile phone for the sake of her suspicious husband Luuk Luijten. Bodil’s life turns around when the police conclude that Isabel is murdered upon discovering an image of her dead body. The thriller film progresses through the aftermath of such a startling discovery, making one wonder whether the film is based on true crime. Well, let us share everything you need to know about it!

Faithfully Yours is a Fictional Story

‘Faithfully Yours’ is not a true story. The protagonists Bodil and Isabel and their engrossing saga are fictional, conceived by André van Duren, Paul Jan Nelissen, and Elisabeth Lodeizen. The foundation of the narrative is based on a thought Paul Jan had when his wife left for a cultural trip with her girlfriend, similar to Bodil and Isabel’s trip in the film. Paul, as a screenwriter, started to wonder what could be the potential and consequences of such a trip, which led the three screenwriters to explore the freedom the two protagonists attain by leaving their respective husbands.

Duren, Paul, and Elisabeth then placed Bodil and Isabel’s extra-marital affairs as the nucleus of the film’s narrative. The screenwriters wanted to explore “cheating” from a female perspective, contrary to the celebrated male-centric portrayals of extra-marital affairs. They conceived Bodil and Isabel as two women who are ambitious with regard to their emotional and sexual lives rather than portraying them as the “passive women” we generally see in genre films. Duren was even adamant about not providing a “reason” for Bodil, who is in a happy marriage with her husband Milan and their son, to cheat to depict that women do not need a “problem” to be unfaithful.

The film’s exploration of “cheating from the other side” is connected to its second major theme, “lies.” Duren’s film digs deeper into the consequences of lying, especially through the storyline of Bodil. He uses George Bernard Shaw’s renowned quote (from the book ‘The Quintessence of Ibsenism’), “The liar’s punishment is, not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else,” as the foundation of Bodil’s storyline. After lying to her husband Milan about having casual sexual encounters with several men, Bodil starts to distrust everyone around her. She even ends up suspecting Milan as the unknown killer of her best friend Isabel. Bodil also distrusts her casual lover Michael Samuels, which leads her to run away from him paranoically.

Another important theme of the film is “control.” Duren and his screenwriting team conceived Bodil and Isabel as two women who can control their spouses rather than ones who get controlled by them. The trio rewrote the genre conventions to avoid representing them as “frightened victims.” Even when Luuk tries to impose his will over the lives of Bodil and Isabel, we see the latter finding a way to counter the same successfully. Through these changes, Duren made a film in which women are not afraid of “angry men.” To “feminize” the genre of thriller, the screenwriting team finalized Isabel’s lover as a woman after originally conceiving the same as a man.

Although ‘Faithfully Yours’ is not based on a true story, the film dives deep into the nuances of femininity, truth, and fidelity with utmost honesty. The group of realistic characters and the series of relatable happenings in the film further make it rooted in reality.

Read More: Faithfully Yours Ending, Explained: Is Isabel Dead or Alive?