Just Another Love Story

"Weak"

Just Another Love Story Review


The narrator in writer/director Ole Bornedal's Danish thriller Just Another Love Story -- a film that's probably too aware of its genre signifiers -- rhetorically asks the audience "A beautiful woman and a mystery. Isn't that how any film noir starts?" Indeed that's true, at least for the better ones. And for a time, Bornedal's cheerfully dark story hits the right admixture of seductive danger that it doesn't matter how many other films and books it might remind you of. Bornedal at least knows his noir well enough to remember that the more accomplished genre entries don't just have a femme fatale with a past, they also feature a grade-A schnook, the kind of bona fide sap who believes everything a dark-haired beauty tells them and thinks he can handle himself. They never can.

Bornedal's sap is Jonas (Anders W. Berthelsen), a police crime scene photographer who lives with his wife and two children in some dead-soul Copenhagen high-rise that he can't afford and still smells of paint. It's a grim life, photographing dead people while his colleagues make self-consciously bad jokes and his midlife crisis churns in overdrive. But Bornedal -- after a stylized opening sequence that tosses out a trio of teaser scenes, including one showing Jonas bleeding to death in the rain -- doesn't do much with Jonas' ennui before throwing the other woman at him and cranking up the noir. It's a whopper of an entry, with Julia's car smashing into Jonas's, after which she slips into a coma and awakes with no memory to find Jonas saying that he's her lover Sebastian, whom her family had heard about but never met. In the first of several hard-to-swallow developments, Jonas is mistaken by Julia's family for Sebastian when he shows up at the hospital to check up on her, and he never corrects them -- he's got a fatale to fall for.

As fatales go, Julia (Rebecka Hemse) is top tier. Hemse presents her character as less the standard-issue sultry risk-vixen than a fragile and damaged soul, etched with an underlying tone of hauteur from her surprisingly upscale background. Her performance provides a deep well of mystery that the rest of the film's story draws heavily from, propping up some weaker plot elements. Even though it's hard to buy Jonas' instant transformation from family man into obsessed lover, Hemse's soulful, wounded-bird presence makes his interest at least plausible. Not hurting things is the fact that Julia's family is incredibly wealthy and quite taken with him; also, she doesn't mind making love to Jonas while still in her hospital bed.

Since Jonas is a sap, of course, he neglects to care about a few things. Like the real (and apparently much more butch) Sebastian, shot dead in Hanoi where Julia may have been working as a drug mule. Like Jonas' wife (wonderfully played by Charlotte Fich) and children. Like the fellow in the wheelchair and the bandaged face hanging around the hospital and staring at him from a distance. If the script had set up a more desperate pre-Julia situation for Jonas to flee from, instead of just a garden-variety midlife crisis, then his illogic rush into oblivion would have made more sense. But by the time Jonas has become thoroughly enmeshed in Julia's life, hoping the whole time that she never regains her memory and realizes that he's not Sebastian, the film has turned into more of a waiting game to see exactly how Jonas will get his comeuppance.

With all its knowing nods towards genre conventions, solid performances, and chilly air of Danish gloom, Just Another Love Story could have been a perfectly fine B-grade thriller, but Bornedal overestimates his cleverness, and after a time his little plot stingers become so perfunctory as to be distracting instead of adrenaline-ratcheting. More Billy Wilder and less David Fincher might have helped.

Aka Kærlighed på film.

Love on the rocks?



Just Another Love Story

Facts and Figures

Run time: 100 mins

In Theaters: Friday 24th August 2007

Distributed by: Revolver Entertainment

Production compaines: Thura Film

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Fresh: 31 Rotten: 12

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: Anders W. Berthelsen as Jonas, Rebecka Hemse as Julia, as Sebastian, Charlotte Fich as Mette, as Frank, Ewa Fröling as Mrs. Castlund, as Mr. Castlund, Josephine Raahauge as Monica Castlund, Timm Vladimir as Magnus Castlund, Ditte Hansen as Kirsten, Fanny Bornedal as Clara, Daniel Stampe as Frederik, Jannie Faurschou as Dr. Irma, Karin Jagd as Nurse, Niels Anders Thorn as Dr. Henriques


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