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Another one of those small Euro digital films that explores human emotion
much better than the mega-bucks equivalents from the States.
When a loving couples unity is shattered by a horrific road accident that cripples the boyfriend, the story explores how a moment can destroy a lifetime or create alternate paths. Superbly acted with deep pathos and unflinching torment, I have yet to see a better performance this year of a female lead. You leave the cinema questioning how the happiest moment in your life can be stolen in a blink of an eye. Life is fragile and all too brief. Not a minute should be wasted.
Having just watched this film, I had to write something. Totally
stunned by the film and its depth. The acting was superb, with totally
believable characters involved with an amazing script. I would rate
this as probably the most impacting film I have watched. I would
recommend watching this film with a loved one. Don't miss any chance to
The music score is first class, and fits exactly with the tone of the film. Having not seen the actors before, my next task will be to find out what else they and the director have been involved with, in the hope that another gem exists of similar quality.
I am not very much into dogma movies - but this one is really worth looking. As always, the danish acting is superb (by the way: can anybody explain me, why actors from Denmark are so convincing every time?) I also liked the open ending, which doesn't pretend to find a solution to a nearly unsolvable problem. Furthermore, the beginning was gorgeous. Susanne Bier presents her characters in slightly normal situations - but yet that charming and vivid, you just have to love the young couple. And so you also will suffer from the incident and its consequences for them. Another interesting aspect is, that there is absolutely no antagonist in this movie - and, surprise, surprise: you won't miss one! All the characters have two sides, are protagonist and antagonist at the same time - just like in real life!
We are living in a Golden Age concerning Danish films. One didn't think
Susanne Bier would get into the Dogma genre, but there she is
This is really good. There's a loving couple, where the man is badly hurt in a car accident and becomes lame, with all the complications, also sexually of course, this means. It wasn't the driver's fault, but she feels guilty and her husband tries to comfort the girl. But the comfort goes much too far.
This is about big feelings, but Bier leads you right into them, without rushing away from you. The acting is absolutely brilliant, especially the plain virtuosity from Paprika Steen and Mads Mikkelsen. I've seen more than 50 films this year, but this might be the best one. Strongly recommended!
Halfway through Open Hearts, it becomes more obvious that you're watching
fictional account. The plot becomes slightly predictable, which is a good
thing. For the most part, this new Danish film feels like a reality
documentary and pulls you in like reality itself. Director Susanne Bier
follows the technical requirements to earn a Dogme 95 certification, which
means the film has to be devoid of any unnatural camera movement, lighting
and sound among other rules. As a result, Open Hearts is also devoid of
superficial movie cliches and full of heartfelt human situations.
The film follows a young, newly?engaged couple and a married couple with kids, whose lives are interrupted and complicated by a road accident. Bier stays clear of the external effects of the drama and instead focuses on the characters' inner effects. Her protagonists lose emotional control and appear ill?equipped to handle the consequences of an unexpected tragedy. The film's appeal is not only universal, but timely as well, shattering the modern belief that everything is controllable. Once tragedy strikes, our lives seem far more fragile than we thought.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What I love the most about these small, foreign movies is the fact that
they aren't afraid to face difficult human subjects and situations. For
the ones who don't know where it is about, I'll give a brief summary.
It's about two families: a young couple who has recently engaged and a
family who with 2 little boys and a 17 year old girl. On a morning
there is an accident caused by the mother while her daughter is sitting
next to her. The mother hits the guy from the engaged couple. What are
the consequences? The guy is paralysed up to his neck and he can only
move his head. He is very bitter and he feels sorry for himself (of
course, who can blame him? The life he had is history.) But then things
are getting complicated when the husband starts an affaire with the
girlfriend of the paralysed guy.
To start with, I loved the story. It's beautiful, touching, human and above all it's real. The characters are real human beings who need love and comfort and attention and someone who listens to them, take care of them, or just hold them All the actors delivered excellent performances. Although the story is something completely different, this movie reminded me of "Festen", another brilliant Danish movie I saw a couple of months ago. The resemblance was caused by the style of the movie and the style of the story. Both stories handle unexpected, but real situations. "Open Hearts" is another brilliant Danish movie!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Open Hearts (2002) Elsker Dig For Evigt. ("I'll Love You for Ever" or "Eternal Love" are better titles than "Open Hearts") Open Hearts (Danish: Elsker dig for evigt), (2002), is a gritty Danish drama directed by Susanne Bier using the minimalist film-making techniques of the Dogme 95 style. It stars Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Sonja Richter and Paprika Steen. Also referred to as Dogme #28, Open Hearts relates the story of two young couples whose lives are traumatized by a tragic car accident and adultery. Cecilie is devastated when her fiancé Joachim is seriously injured in a car accident and is paralyzed from the waist down. She begins an affair with Niels, a doctor at the hospital where Joachim is being treated. Their relationship is further complicated by the fact that the doctor's wife Marie was the driver that caused the accident in the first place I have recently seen 2 of Susan Biers other films. I was not aware she had made a Dogma95 film. As I stated in reviews of her other films I am generally not a great fan of melodramas. I am a great fan of melodramas by Susan Bier. Her films make that magical transformation into REAL life (lives) and living (and dying). Open Hearts was filmed with video cameras--almost like the expert connoisseurs home movie. A young couple has plans for getting married. Joachim (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) and Cecilie (Sonja Richter) Fate intervenes when Joachim steps in from of a car (accidentally) and is hit and paralyzed never to walk again or movie his hands. Susan Biers films do not use sentimentality but go directly to the emotions of the human heart when dealing with her protagonists. Joachim does not accept his fate well- rejecting his girlfriend and hurling anger at all around him. The films craftsmanship is evident and honest emotions and interactions are tackled very directly by Bier. The film is emotionally dark and bleak look at the 2 main characters. Things go for even a more spin of fate as the girlfriend makes a strange involvement with the husband of the woman who actually caused the accident. the film streams on to its gut wrenching heart rendering end. There is a resolution of sorts and here at the very end the movie but that resolution was weak for me. I have put in my queue every film by Susan Bier. Highly Recommended--but be aware this is not general entertainment movie viewing. This movie will make you feel -think- cry and more. It is a very powerful film. hats off to Biers. Certainly one of the best films of 2002. Bier skillfully captures the feeling of real emotions that extreme trauma creates within the lives of the characters in her film. five stars highest recommendation.
Enough has been said about the Dogme rules, and the many movies that
have been made with the certificate. No matter if you like the concept
or not, Dogme will always ad a great amount of realism into a movie.
And in "Elsker Dig Forevigt"/"Open Heart" the realism is very strong.
Probably stronger in any of the other Dogme-films I have seen.
Even more realistic the movie gets from the acting, which is outstanding. I found Mads Mikkelsen a bit under-achieving in the beginning, but as the drama gets more intense so does Mikkelsen. He is Niels, the soft, modern, Danish family-man, who is as good with the kids as he is with his job. Other of Mikkelsen's parts has been very far from that, not least playing Tonny in Refn's "Pusher" and "Pusher II".
The wife of Niels, Marie, is well performed by Paprika Steen. Danish movies have had a reputation (in Denmark) that they are all dull, everyday-dramas with Paprika Steen in a leading role. "Elsker Dig..." has probably played a part in creating this reputation. It's not really fair, firstly because Danish movies are a lot more than that and secondly because Steen is really good. In "Elsker Dig " she shows great dept in her acting, and in one of the best scenes in the movie Marie's 'house-wife-facade' breaks down, showing that Marie is a lot stronger than what you could have expected. It's a difficult scene, but Steen carries it out very well.
As the third corner stone of the triangle Sonja Richter is the young woman Cæcilie who's boyfriend Joachim (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) is severely injured, when he gets run down by Marie, driving a bit too fast. The performances by Richter and Kaas are as spotless as they are outstanding.
I have to comment on the children in this movie. It rarely works really well, because children aren't actors. But the teenage daughter of Niels and Marie, Stine (Stine Bjerregaard), has a lot to offer. She too has a big scene, again it works, and it's brilliant. The younger brothers, Gustav and Emil, works very good too. These kids aren't 'acting' they are 'living' their parts. Stop casting wonder-kids, and look this way!
This thing is normally not my thing. But still I rated this movie high because it is a good movie. I generally like realism in movies (which I guess this review unveils) and that is 100% here.
This movie has a sober sense of tragic : It shows how life is fragile and uncontrollable, whether it is a young couple passionately in love hit by a terrible accident or a double-kid mature couple whose husband will be unfaithful to his wife. The cleverness of the story-telling lies in the fact that the two stories are highly intertwined and all through movie you find yourself recognising everything the characters struggle through. You want to judge them but you are left with you own guilt without any conclusion fro the film. The documentary-style and the dogme do not prevail over the meaning and even give some realistic strength to the beautiful acting. To sum up : a simple tale of two destinies where tragedy reveal our fragility and love can redeem guilt. (7 out Of 10)
A Bergmanesque study of a marriage that is turned upsidedown by one part
mishap and one part momentary lapse of reason. What's provocative here,
makes for an intelligent and moving film, is the way in which the spurned
wife (played with quiet dignity by the estimable Paprika Steen) doesn't
up deserved revenge, quivering hatred or physical or mental violence. but,
rather, offers an attempt to understand, to accept, and to hold the family
together regardless. How rare is this? The line that stays with me - and
it's a casual aside but one that cuts straight to the bone - is Paprika
telling her husband's mistress that `we can't even afford' the new
he has lavished on her.
Once the film hits its groove, its DOGME origins are forgotten and we're left with intimacy and the thousand and one little tragedies that unfold on any given day of any given week. It could be said to be modest in scope, somewhat uninventive in form, and it does immerse itself uncritically in the middle class milieu (and in this respect, I would liken it to Moretti's `La Stanza del Figlio' - except that film does seem to express a suppressed distaste for Berlusconi's Italy), but there's an honesty and maturity that make it a valuable experience - particularly for any teenager used to a soap opera diet of hysterical marriage operatics. or for anyone still recovering from `Festen'.
At its best, and there's a frisson of that here, DOGME-95 has delivered fresh slices of life (or, to elaborate, privileges a panorama of personal battles against a recognisably familiar backdrop) - its Vows of Chastity whittling the camera down to something akin to a microscope.
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