10 timer til Paradis (2012)
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It's totally a visual movie. The content and plot are nothing to be concerned with, they are Normal.
Watch how Abnormal this guy is. Watch how he persistently avoids the Normal and finds another person like himself. (She's actually quite a bit more normal than he is)
He is a Mountain, a Monument of abnormality, dedicated to being gentle in a world that is almost completely unable to let me (or any of us, for the matter) be gentle.
And it's Not just his nature, it's also a dedication. And somehow he Uses that bodybuilding to reinforce his gentleness. He Moves gently.
It's quite a performance. I have no idea who he is, or what he actually is like, nor do I care. But here, he and the director have built... and elephant of a person. Huge, powerful, and gentle.
Joy to watch.
And you thought you were shy? This guy, who is all about power and presence, a massive bodybuilder, is a social misfit afraid of his own shadow. And I believe it. I almost felt sorry for the actor, forgetting the difference.
I suppose the story from the outside is overly simple--an aging bodybuilder is looking for love, but his overbearing (and tiny) mother doesn't want him to move out and move on. So he is kind and kinder and stays and yet he has some kind of need to have a girlfriend that won't just go away. With the secret help of an uncle, he makes a trip to Thailand. And here he meets girls, but he can hardly speak, and nothing comes of it. The second day there he finds a weightlifting gym and asks if he can work out. And all of a sudden he is at ease and himself.
And things go from there, not in any unexpected way. All of this is told with such touching restraint it makes you really involved. The leading man, Kim Kold, obviously a bodybuilder (like Schwarzenegger, you can't fake that stuff), is really good at playing an exceedingly quiet guy, but not a stupid one. He is going to be in a Hollywood movie ("Fast and Furious 6") this year, and who knows whether it'll be a first step or a last one. It seems like, just because of his Hulk shaped body, he has a future at least as a character actor.
The movie, all told, might lack some kind of storytelling nuance. It is what it is on purpose, but so much so it sometimes floats a little. This kind of Indie style often works just the way life does--things are interesting, watching some new people do some new things in an undistracted way is going to be watchable. And this does that, and well. It's because of its sincerity that you have some kind of emotional connection. But there is no magic, either, the way some films use small casts and simple touching plots and also find a way to lift the experience into something rare. (I'm thinking here of a similar movie about an aging wrestler in South America, "Bad Day to Go Fishing," which I highly recommend.)
I don't know the Danish film world much except that we, in the U.S., seem to get the cream of the crop and so the few I've seen have all been exceptional. I'd give this a look.
The true beauty of this film is found in it's theme of masculinity. The film redefines what it means to be a male. We have the image of a massive body builder being ruled and dominated by nothing more than a 90 pound woman. All he desires is love and freedom. In his quest he never uses his muscles or size to break free from the emotional tyranny. It is his heart and mind that breaks free from his mother and flies towards dreams of love. The woman he ends up falling in love with is no bigger than a thimble. The same message is told in his love life. Love has nothing to do with power. It's a beautiful reminder and example to all male's that masculinity has nothing to do with physical prowess. It's a good reminder to all male's that being a true male means using your heart is a passive manner. Love and freedom manifest through thought and emotion, not power and anger. Hopefully people who view this film will redirect their view of masculinity. It has to do with the intellect and matters of the heart.
Lastly, and on a cheesy note. I think the film maker was trying to tell a story that we are all capable of finding love regardless of our background, family issues, and current situations. Big or small, trapped or free, love is possible.
Acutely directed by Danish filmmaker Mads Matthiesen, this finely paced fictional tale which is narrated mostly from the main character's point of view, draws a genuinely heartfelt portrayal of a man's search for a girlfriend and his relationship with his mother. While notable for its naturalistic and atmospheric milieu depictions and fine cinematography by Danish cinematographer Laust Trier-Mørk, this character-driven drama depicts a insightful study of character and contains a great score by composer Sune Martin which emphasizes it's lingering atmosphere.
This incisively romantic, authentic and touching story about life-altering choices and the gracefulness of human nature, is impelled and reinforced by its cogent narrative structure, subtle character development and continuity, endearing characters and the empathic and heartrending acting performances by Danish actor Kim Kold, actress Chanicha Shindejanichakul and Danish actress Elsebeth Steentoft. A minimalistic and poignant love-story which gained the Directing Award Mads Matthiesen at the 28th Sundance Film Festival in 2012.
I hope and wish on the brightest star I see tonight that Mads Matthiesen's Teddy Bear finds an audience not only in its home-country of Denmark, but in America, which is so accustomed to its spontaneous, mostly empty cinema that it's ridiculously easy and sickeningly common for small, human-driven pictures like this to go far below the radar. This is a stunning, poignant, masterful work involving immensely undiscovered talent, sensitive writing, smooth directing, and a storyline that is pure and viably sustainable when taken in the format presented.
Dennis is a thirty-eight year old bodybuilder, living with his controlling, domineering mother (Elsebeth Steentoft) who has kept him a shy, secluded introvert his entire life. Despite boasting a strong, incredibly toned exterior, his interior paints a feeble man three times smaller than him. He has never had a true relationship, and slogs through his days depressed and uninspired. His morose feelings only heighten upon visiting his uncle's wedding to a lovely Thai woman, and not long after, seeing his nephew so lonely and melancholy in live, encouraging Dennis to travel to Thailand to try and meet some women.
He lies and tells his mother that he will be competing in a bodybuilding competition in Germany, and then quickly boards a plane to Thailand. A close friend of his uncle's attempts to set him up with several different girls, but the fact they're all prostitutes unsettles Dennis and he becomes nervous and hasty around all of them. He finally meets a young, genial soul named Toi (Lamaiporn Sangmanee Hougaard), who owns a gym, and he believes he has found the one he'd love to form a relationship with; now if only his mother will approve of it.
Dennis is played by former bodybuilder Kim Kold to a bold, graciously welcoming extent. His character greatly reminds me of myself in some ways; he hungers for the attention of the opposite sex, but is unsure of how to balance it and handle it all once obtaining it. He struggles to maintain a consistent conversation, is notably tense and socially inept during the simplest little get-together, and feels gridlocked to long pauses and dialog that lacks confidence. This is a negative affect of the heavy nurturing of his mother, who seems to keep him well-fed and unambitious in not his dreams but his social life.
The way writers Matthiesen and Martin Zandvliet handle this delicate material is astonishingly poetic and nuanced. They stray far, far away from shouting matches between Dennis and his mother about "taking care of me" and other mother-son issues, and fights between Dennis and Toi about "growing up." We see from our scenes with them together that Toi knows exactly what the deal is between Dennis and his mom and prefers not to further belittle him for the minor baggage. She'd much rather go the extra mile to make the relationship as a whole work well.
Teddy Bear is also photographed with that beautifully melodic foreign film sensitivity that combines minimalist cinematography and gorgeously showcased settings that add fuel to this as a visually compelling picture much less a narratively compelling one. But it's inexcusable to note the majority of the film's success comes from its leading man, Kold, who completely handles this role with the utmost capability and realism. He provides us with one of the finest performances of the year, and with one of the year's most likable protagonists as well.
Starring: Kim Kold, Lamaiporn Sangmanee Hougaard, and Elsebeth Steentoft. Directed by: Mads Matthiesen.
Kim Kold, an actual former Danish National Bodybuilding Champion, is terrific portraying Dennis Petersen, a 38 year old introverted nice guy. He's a hulk of a man who in the film is also a professional bodybuilder and former champion.
But Dennis has a problem. His mother Ingrid, marvelously portrayed by the veteran Danish actress Elsebeth Steentoft, is a controlling, manipulative, and selfish person, who will do just about anything to keep Dennis at home and under her emotional control.
When Dennis' uncle Bent rewards him with a trip to Thailand after he helped him with a major yard project, Dennis lies to Ingrid and tells her he's going to a weightlifting competition in Germany.
When Dennis arrives in Thailand he's not comfortable with the prolific prostitutes there who are continually trying to solicit him. Instead he meets Toi, also wonderfully portrayed by Lamaiporn Sangmanee Hougaard, who is the owner of the gym where Dennis has stopped off at. They hit it off and Toi shows him around the city and the surrounding countryside.
Dennis ends up inviting her to come to Denmark and live there. He even goes out and secretly rents an apartment for her, knowing that Ingrid is going to be upset.
When Toi takes him up on his offer and comes to live in Denmark, Ingrid finds out and it all spirals into a dramatic conclusion. I found this movie to be a surprising little gem, but it's probably not for everyone. But for those viewers who have the patience to enjoy a quiet, droll foreign film that has an interesting and original story you may very well like this film as I did.
Dennis is a professional body builder, a huge hulking man who is a gentle giant of 38. He still lives with his mother in her home, and at first I thought she suffered from dementia because of the ultra politeness of Dennis's dealings with her, never arguing, doing whatever she said, sharing the bathroom with her in the mornings. However, it became clear that his mother was a controlling, very subtle monster who kept her son at a pre-school level in their relationship. Dennis is played very well by Kim Kold in what appears to be his first, maybe only movie appearance. Kold is indeed a professional body builder. His mother is played by Elsebeth Steentoft, a professional actress who is incredibly expressive without moving a muscle. Most of the cast have no other movie experience, and Matthiesen did a wonderful job getting a professional quality performance from everyone.
The plot of the movie is whether Dennis can separate himself from his mother, and I found my self rooting for him along the way. His disagreements with his mother never have raised voices, are based on her subtle manipulation of his feelings toward her, and require her to keep him as her little boy. She refers occasionally to men being disappointments and to Dennis's father, whom Dennis never knew, and her greatest reproof of Dennis is to tell him that he's like his father. The struggle for control over Dennis's freedom is never out in the open.
Dennis's struggle is as subtle as his mother's control, so the drama of his journey is without rage or tears. Just the lonely journey to independence that he should have taken as a boy, made more difficult by decades of manipulation by his mother. Kold does an excellent job showing the internal conflict without emoting. It's a very good movie.
I have the movie on a DVD from filmmovement.com, and the DVD contains two short features by Matthiesen. I don't know whether this is one sick dude or he just likes to explore sick relationships. One of the features is "Dennis," a short version of "Teddy Bear" which shows more of the relationship between Dennis and his mother. The other feature is "Cathrine," which explores the relationship between an overweight 16-year-old girl and a 33-year-old man. As in "Dennis" and "Teddy Bear," Cathrine's parents are controlling, but you can't root for a girl to break free with a man that old -- out of the frying pan and into the fire, I fear.
"Teddy Bear" looks cute on the surface, but addresses a lot of underlying psychological and ethical issues in the plot. The mother holds a strong stance against sex tourism, which is understandable, and a viewpoint that has to be portrayed in a film like this. While the bodybuilder goes to Thailand, he still holds respect towards women which is a welcoming subplot. The way he breaks through cultural barriers, and the shackles imposed on him by his family is also well explored and well presented. I enjoyed watching this film.
*NOTE - If you're here to read reviews before seeing this movie...if at all possible, watch the 'short' simply titled "Dennis" BEFORE watching this - they're directly connected.
I was channel-surfing and came upon the 'short' "Dennis" on "The Film Fest" channel and decided to watch...and, it was as good as it was disturbing. Then, I also found "Teddy Bear" on the 'same' channel - even better, but, no less disturbing.
This is a very well-made movie and good story that hits very close to home for me, and...I'm sure, for most everyone else who's seen it. Over the years, I've actually had friends, and, girlfriends, who, if not for a bossy and dominating parent, or parents, would have been quite happier and more successful in their social and professional lives; not to mention, their own 'parental' lives.
"Teddy Bear" is about this same kind of typical clingy, lonely, and, selfish mom who just cannot let go of her very-adult son; and, the brainwashed adult son who's never left mommy's home and has been raised to believe that his 'mom' is, and, always will be, the focal point of his life and the only woman who will ever love him!?!? The entire concept of this is abnormal and disgusting, but, it happens all over the world, every day...usually, but, not limited to, moms and their 'momma's-boy' sons.
Right away, you can tell that 'Dennis,' the protagonist, is a very good, honest, gentle, and, respectful man who has a bright future both socially and professionally; but, he's also a 38-year-old, socially-odd prisoner in this own limited world that is run by his mom who's 'trained' him since conception that 'mommy knows best' and 'mommy is best.' She also tells Dennis that "Men can't be trusted," but, oddly, she keeps Dennis, a man, at home with her!?!? Seems to me that 'mom' would be doing the 'female-world' a big favor by releasing her son unto them as he obviously 'can' be trusted to be good to a woman since 'she's' kept him around her all of his life!?!? No! She's clingy, lonely, and, selfish!
Dennis' mom always wants to know where Dennis is; whom he's with; whom he was with; what he's doing; what he's been doing; etc. (I couldn't stand my mom asking me these questions when I was 10!). My parents cut me loose when I was 18; but, I've had friendships and relationships ruined because of parents just like the mom depicted in this movie, and,...it's pathetic! I couldn't believe that these adult-friends of mine actually listened to their parents when orders were barked at them as if we were all kids again!?!? It's a sickening situation somewhere in between 'Bobby Boucher' in "The Waterboy" and 'Norman Bates' in "Psycho."
Even before it ever happened, I could read Dennis' mom like a Greek tragedy, as I've been there before! I knew it was coming, but, before he even mentioned the word 'girlfriend' to his mom, I knew she'd become all 'woe is me;' and, 'what about me;' and, 'how could you do this to me;' and, 'ME, ME, ME!' Never "DENNIS"...only "ME!" This movie is an exact blueprint for how parents shouldn't be towards their adult sons and daughters; and, at the same time, a reverse-barometer of how adult sons and daughters shouldn't react to their parents and their interference...show a mind of your own and some backbone!
I can't remember where, but, I'm certain that I once read something along the lines of "When you get married, you divorce your parents."
Parents, the world over, should wise-up to this concept; and, adult-children who still feel the need to remain fledglings should do the same and 'grow up!' This kind of 'parental domination' can not only prevent relationships and marriage, but, it can cause divorce! This kind of domineering parent will also breed contempt in a child; as well as get the child to lie to the parent when they want something, or, want to do something, that they know the parent will object to...which is anything and everything that doesn't include the parent.
Dennis is a great guy, but, he's been conditioned all his life to be a life-long servant by and to a mom who married a man who was an alcoholic (probably because she pulled these same stunts and guilt-trips with hubby and it drove him to drinking!?!?).
Dennis' mom is a 'ball-and-chain-pain-in-the-butt' who couldn't imprison her husband, so, she turned to her son for the same attention and subservience. Clinically speaking, Dennis' mom is a 'urogenital opening just anterior to the anus.' (I had to give this definition as vulgarity is forbidden on IMDb...but, you get the gist).
This is a very good movie that opens up a lot of eyes and minds; but, it also opens up a lot of old wounds and bad memories of friends who could'a, should'a, would'a been...if not for a parent like this!?!?.
BOTTOM LINE - If you have a good son/daughter like Dennis...don't be a bad mom like Ingrid! Let him/her go out and enrich the world! :)
I loved the reversal of character attributes between Dennis and his mother. The movie was set up for the transition of Dennis from his solitary shell to become a man of his own choosing.
Technically this does happen as can be seen from the previews, but the way it happened was very much lack-luster in my opinion. I wanted to be moved emotionally, I wanted to get involved in the storyline.
But in the end I wound up watching a very decidedly awkward relationship unfold between all the characters without any real power. The acting was very fitting, the plot was elegant, but there was no life, no desire, no emotion.
This movie was more like the firework you've been saving for the time your parents aren't around only to find that it fizzles and pops rather than bangs.