Castles, kids and secret codes make this Dutch mystery fun to watch

Code M
Directed by Dennis Bots
97 minutes, PG
April 24, 3:45 @ TIFF Kids

This big-budget Dutch film is a crowd-pleaser and making its Canadian premiere at this year’s TIFF Kids International Film Festival. With more castles and intrigue that you can shake a sword at, Code M was highly entertaining for me and my 11-year-old goddaughter.

At the outset we are introduced to Isabel, a 12-year-old with a fearless sense of adventure (she is dangling her brother out a window to retrieve a bird’s nest from a tree). But then the family learns their Opa (grandfather) is in the hospital, and the mystery begins.

Perhaps that’s the “m” in the title? Or is it Maastricht, the Dutch town where Opa lives in a dilapidated farm house that has been in the family for generrations? Or it could be for musketeer, the family obsession that began when young Stas, Isabel’s great great great great grandfather, was promised the sword of D’Artagnan, a French musketeer upon whom Alexander Dumas based the classic novel.

While The Three Musketeers was fiction, D’Artagnan was a real person who fought in the Battle of Maastricht and the mystery of his grave has never been solved, director Dennis Bots said in a tweet, noting it was the inspiration for the film. We enjoyed lush scenery of the Dutch countryside and medieval town, which seemed to be the perfect backdrop for the unfolding mystery.

No good kid adventure flick is complete without a couple of co-conspirators. Isabel’s long lost cousin and tech guru, Rik, and new friend Jules (the grandson of a wealthy collector and fellow musketeer enthusiast) round out the trio.  As Isabel, Rik and Jules get closer and closer to solving the clues and finding the elusive sword, they become more imperiled. Isabel seems to catch the same bug that obsessed her Opa and tore her family apart.  But with help from her friends and a determined tween spirit, Isabel brings her family together again.

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