If you think the title of this film is just a bit presumptuous, wait'll you
see what it refers to. This Danish selection for Best Foreign Language Film
of 2003 begins with the narrator/writer speaking to the audience about the
main character of the piece and goes on to control his motivations and
actions as though who and what he is and whom he's relating to is being
worked out by the writer. In other words, he's a fictional character caught
up in a skein of gimmicky multi-realities.
Alex (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), a character in the puppeteering eye of the narrator,
appears out of a mist of low resolution film. He is a Danish photographer who
thinks he has his life in balance. His steady girlfriend Simone (Maria
Bonnevie) is, after all, a beauty who is quite in love with him. But when his
path takes him to a bar he regularly frequents, and when he meets Aimee (also
Maria Bonnevie), blond hair flowing, lush lips, classic bone structure, he
expresses his attraction by offering her a trip to Paris.
She's attracted enough to weigh it. "If you're the girl of my dreams.
then...", he says. "Then you could be the man of mine," she supposes, though
her being married imposes a restraint. She may be a neglected wife, but
she's a wife nevertheless. She contemplates giving it all up for the
newcomer in her life with the adventurous pickup line.
Her husband August (Krister Henriksson), however, is the writer who is
controlling this scenario. While struggling with the outcome of the surreal
romance he's started, August states, in a radio interview that, as a writer,
he doesn't apologize for being romantic. But neither is he charismatic
enough to compete for his wife's affections against the allure of the young
suitor he's dreamed up out of his marital anxieties. Rest assured that a
little confusion here about the surreal context is within the framework of
After a night in bed with Aimee, Alex returns to the apartment he shares with
Simone to call off their relationship. But after climbing the stairs in
their building, he finds that.... the apartment doesn't exist. That's right.
Where he thought his apartment was has become a blank area on a landing
without rooms. Shades of Kafka!
When he finally finds Simone, it's by a chance encounter on a street. As
much as he claims to know her, she has no idea who he is. He's perplexed, as
are we, until we realize that we're in the peculiar dimensions of an off beat
sci-fi thriller that's titillating us with an experimental hypothesis in lieu
of a comprehensible plot.
As Alex faces the deconstruction of his realities, challenging his sanity and
understanding, we, the audience struggle to make sense of it as observers.
The writer is having his way with us. We've been shoved into his
manipulations. But, that's all right, in the end. We've been kept on a
string of incoherency but it's not without a certain fascination at least in
terms of where the romantic mystery is going and just how the
"Reconstruction" is going to be tooled and contrived.
Bonnevie, as writer-director Christopher Boe's and co-writer Mogens Rukov's
symbol of woman as a two-sided mystery, bounces between promiscuous
dependency and loyal constancy. While this is the kind of dual role actors
dream about, its artificial symbolism keeps it one-planed and not to be
entrusted with much in the way of emotional engagement. What does emerge,
however, is the work of an actress who can portray self confident allure with
the best of the vamps. Little known outside Scandinavia where she's much in
demand, Bonnevie is clearly worth watching for in wider fields of
Kaas, for his part, carries us through Boe's labyrinth of disconnection with
good energy, but with something less than magnetic appeal. The mystery of
what quality he possesses that makes him such an object of sexual attraction
persists -- in a way that Boe's casting might not have reckoned with.
In the final analysis, the presumptions behind this mental exercise in
gyrating realities of romance and relationships never generates the weight of
revelation that seems to be its mystical aim.
~~ Jules Brenner