Montag, 17. Februar 2014

Berlinale: En du elsker (Someone You Love) / Praia do futuro

Danish family drama "En du elsker (Someone You Love)" is built on a fairly formulaic set-up and ends with an extra helping of kitsch, but the experience of watching it turns out to be a surprisingly painless one and actually quite moving here and there. Principal reason for that is the quality of the performances, which are individually fantastic and collectively winning. Playing an aged musician caught up by his own past when confronted with a grandson, Mikael Persbrandt is effortlessly riveting. Just taking a look at his face, open, weary like an antique map with entire histories etched on it, and you'd be ready to buy his character's professional cynicism, trained callousness and chronic commitment-phobia right off the bat. His every move and pause carry with them an invisible weight that instantly captivates.The same can be said of both supporting players, Trine Dyrholm and Sofus Rønnov. The former brings her usual tranquility and down-to-earth appeal to the part of the veteran music producer while the latter shows a remarkable level of concentration and composure in many stare-downs with his estranged granddad. Thanks to the collaboration of these gifted, fearless performers, as well as the mostly unfussy, perceptive direction from helmer Pernille Fischer Christensen, there are next to no squirm-worthy moments in a film that could have gone Schweiger in so many ways.

Brazilian-German competition entry "Praia do futuro", about the romance between a Brazilian lifeguard and a German motorcycle racer, starts off slowly and never quite picks up speed. Most of the movie is dedicated to scenes of casual acts that are not very expressive of an inner drive or inarticulate conversations that don't really go anywhere. In fact, the two unhappy lovers spend much of their screen time establishing that they have nothing to do in the hometown of the other. That nothingness certainly comes across. In the third act, when the younger brother with abandonment issues shows up, there are finally signs of dramatic potential but the promise of sparks soon tapers off as more wrong questions are asked and non-answers given. Writer/director Karim Aïnouz has serious problems communicating what he's trying to say, both visually and especially verbally. In the end, that dull opacity and sluggish passivity leave one cold. The cinematography, while not exactly outstanding, is easily the most striking feature of the film. That final shot, following two motorbikes as they glide and swerve through a mystic fog with oiled, noiseless agility, is gorgeous and poignant like few others from all the 100 preceding minutes.

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