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42-year-old Michael needs a change in his life, so when he hears about clinical trials for a new anti-depressant, he signs up to be a guinea pig - without telling his family. Because of dangerous side effects, the trial is subsequently abandoned but Michael continues to take the pills. Having lost all control, Michael's repressed instincts resurface with a force and violence that no-one could have predicted. Written by
Got a chance to catch the world premiere of Fear Me Not, directed and written by Kristian Levring, at the Toronto Internal Film Festival.
The film examines the deterioration of the life of a man in his mid-40's facing a mid-life crisis exasperated by the fact that he has become addicted to a prescription medication with nasty side effects.
Ulrich Thomsen dominates the movie as Mikael, a doctor who has recently taken a sabbatical from work only to find himself bored and at a loss at what to do with his time. On a whim he enters into a medical study examining the side effects of a newly developed anti-depressant. When he, and other patients, begin to exhibit violent tendencies Mikael finds that he is both unable and unwilling to stop taking the drugs. Fascinated by the positive outlook on life that he gains from the little pills Mikael finds himself acting out increasingly aggressive and violent fantasies on strangers and even his own family and friends.
Ulrich Thomsen does great work here portraying the mostly docile and kind Mikael with great depth and persona. Even in the midst of acting out his most cruel fantasies Thomsen displays a sense of uncertainty and bewilderment at his own actions as if he, along with the audience, is shocked at the dramatic results that the pills have produced. Paprika Steen, in a supporting role as Mikael's wife Sigrid, turns a mediocre role into something exciting. Even small scenes, like when Mikael and Sigrid are playing scrabble, are filled with tension as we watch Sigrid drift between anger, annoyance and hurt as she tries to convince Mikael to go back to work.
The cinematography is gorgeous and includes plenty of lush scenery. The editing really adds to the overall mood of the piece, the frequent jump-cuts helping to enhance the fragmented, jittery feelings as Mikael finds himself being splintered between two sides of himself.
As a whole the movie is decent but a last minute twist in the final act turns the movie into full blown melodrama. Despite the histrionics of the final ten minutes and the rather disappointing conclusion told mostly through voice-over, the movie is still worth watching for Thomsen and Steen's performances as well as the enticing and astonishing build-up as Mikael goes from a placid family-man to a malevolent, abusive husband.
Levring and Thomsen were actually at the screening and had a brief q & a afterwards. It was really cool, Levring talked a bit about his inspiration for the film and mentioned Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde which really came across in the way that the pill popping scenes were filmed and edited.
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