Caught this Danish noir thriller (with definite melodrama tendencies) on a late showing at the Edinburgh Film Festival. It really reminded me Elsker dig for evigt (Open Hearts) (2002), where unconnected lives become intimately and dangerously intertwined through a chance, potentially tragic event. The films have a different filmic style, the earlier film being Dogme, whereas this later one uses some stylistic tricks, such as superimpositions, to match the heightened emotions. However, both films seem to have an ability brilliantly to bring out the banality of these events as well as their tragic significance.
The premise of the film is apparently far-fetched, that Jonas (Anders W. Berthelsen) feels responsible for an accident that has put Julia into a coma. On visiting her in hospital, he is mistaken for her boyfriend by her estranged family. Somehow the mistake is perpetuated, and it is the ordinariness of the man who finds himself in an extraordinary situation that was really affecting. That his increasing questioning of his own life and choices is completely believable is down to the performances by all the leads, not least Jonas’s wife (Charlotte Fich) who is blindsided by this change in their lives. Just as in Open Hearts and Drommen (2006), extremes are dealt with, but at a very human level.
It starts to make me wonder whether is almost a feature of Danish film narrative – a constant sense of the irony of their situation. (It weirdly reminds me of Hardy, where the plot events are almost devices, to explore the different responses of different characters to those extremes, to understand our flawed humanity more fully).
On a lighter note (!), I wonder what the Danish film industry would do without its most reliable asset – Berthelsen – who must have crossover potential (as Mads Mikkelsen from Open Hearts clearly had for the Bond franchise recently). He has appeared in other independent pieces such as the British film Blinded which premiered at the festival in 2005 (but despite Peter Mullan and Jodhi May seemed to disappear) and had a role in Kathryn Bigelow’s underrated Shreve adaptation The Weight of Water. However, he clearly is focussed on turning in vital leading man performances for recent Danish cinema.