Friday, July 27, 2007

Open Hearts

2002, Denmark, directed by Susanne Bier (Aka: Elsker dig for evigt)

Despite the celebrated works of practitioners like Douglas Sirk or his later disciple Rainer Werner Fassbinder, melodramas often seem to get short shrift as a means of cinematic expression. Susanne Bier's film plays things straighter than Sirk might have chosen, as befits an entry in the Dogme 95 style, but she's adept at setting up complex interplays of emotion that take off in unexpected directions. She makes use of the Dogme strictures as a means to tell a compelling story rather than as an end in themselves such that the viewer quickly becomes accustomed to the shaky camerwork and sometimes blurred imagery that assist in the narration of what is ultimately a kind of moral tragedy, in which the characters are unable to perceive the impact of their own actions on others - and often unwilling to accept the consequences of those actions

Bier is blessed with an extraordinarily talented group of actors, who create a set of vividly real, complex, often objectionable characters grounded in the minutiae - both mundane and joyful - of daily life; the simplicity of the film's technique brings allows Bier to get very close to her cast (sometimes uncomfortably so, with the camera literally in the actors' faces, forcing them to adapt and react). Although Dogme calls for a minimum of visual artifice, Bier breaks the rules and bookends her film with richly colored, abstract sequences that recall Lars Von Trier's use of painted colour inserts between the chapters of his otherwise earthy - and melodramatic - Breaking the Waves, a choice that parallels the fevered, uncertain state of mind in which the protagonists are left.

1 comment:

Daire said...

oh yes: just a suggestion that you could use if you like. is it possible to set up a category sorter so that you can view all the films that you have given 5 stars to, and another for 4 stars etc etc? just an idea... d


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