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Directed by Christoffer Boe
Produced in 2003
Main Language - DANISH with English subtitles
Countries & Regions - Scandinavian Film
Artfully constructed out of smoke and mirrors, this striking debut from Danish director Christoffer Boe is that sexiest of beasts: a date movie to keep you and your companion up all night talking – and doing who knows what else besides.
Ostensibly, it’s a drama about four characters on the streets of Copenhagen: Alex (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), a photographer; August (Krister Henriksson), a successful writer; Aimee (Maria Bonnevie), the writer’s much younger wife, with whom Alex falls in love; and Simone (Bonnevie again), Alex’s girlfriend. All available evidence – not least the casting – points to the fact Aimee and Simone are two sides of the same person, and that one of the characters – not hard to guess who – is obsessively writing and re-writing the story as the film goes on in a bid to regain control of those elements they can’t otherwise hold on to.
As the two male characters’ professions suggest, what we’re privy to here is a battle for supremacy between words and pictures. The unfortunate Alex is subjected to an audacious twist halfway through the film that effectively locks him out of his own life. A third party, though – the truth of the matter, as represented by Aimee/Simone – keeps wriggling free from both of them and, indeed, in several places, from the viewer.
Boe casts intriguingly – Henriksson, the cuckolder in Liv Ullmann’s Faithless, plays cuckold, while Lie Kaas, the cuckold in Susanne Bier’s Open Hearts, is the cuckolder – and shoots distinctively on a variety of film stocks, employing surveillance camera footage to suggest a God’s-eye view of the world. The degraded digital-video inserts in Open Hearts hinted at irreconcilable other worlds; here, those same pixels sit like pencil erasings on the surface of the film, emphasising the fragility of not only what we’re watching – that scenarios are apt to be rubbed out and pencilled in again – but also that of the emotions being played out.
For while it may occasionally seem like no more than an exercise in post-modern game-playing – a film with echoes of, variously, Polanski, Borges, Roeg, Lynch, the love scenes in Soderbergh’s Out of Sight, Gilles Mimouni’s soon-to-be-remade L’Appartement, and possibly a whole lot more besides – there’s something else here, too: genuine feeling, and a passion as much for life as for anything in the cinema. That’s evident in the scene where the soundtrack starts to crackle like a Geiger counter with the intensity of a specific emotion, and in the sequence where the image shakes with hatred for one particular character, as though somebody is ripping the film from its sprocket holes with their bare hands and trying to crush it.
If we are to compare Reconstruction with another film, let it be the heartfelt tail-end po-mo of Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation. There, as here, we’re left with the melancholy sense of how the lonely resort to making things up in order to console themselves and get by. Reconstruction’s first and last words would fit both films comfortably: "It is all a film, all a construction. But it hurts."
Mike McCahill on 26th May 2005
Author of 217 reviews
Beautifully shot on the streets of Copenhagen, Boe's debut film turns romantic drama inside out. The film explores how life's daily decisions open paths in your life while closing others. Winner of the Camera d'Or at Cannes.
Publisher: Soda Pictures
Length: 91 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic widescreen
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 4th October 2010
Cat No: SODA006
- 'Europe' - short film by Christoffer Boe from the 'Visions of Europe' collection
- Theatrical Trailer.