24 May 2001 | Lebech
Touching and subtle Danish movie
A group of Danish men take a boat-trip to Poland to celebrate the 40th birthday of Kaj with lots of drinking and women. They wind up in a group from a contact agency for Danish men and Polish women. Kaj is mistaken by Polish Magdalena for her date, who didn't show up at the ferry, and is quickly involved more than he expected.
A comedy on the surface, the movie has many layers. On the surface, it is very funny at times, but throughout the movie is a very disturbing undertone in its realistic portrayal of the clash between Danish and Polish culture. Essentially a social realist drama rather than a comedy, the movie also gives an unflattering depiction of Danish drinking-culture, yet one most Danes would agree is unfortunately not far from reality.
The greatest strength of the movie, however, lies in its striking portrait of Kaj. Overweight, not too bright, awkward and shy, yet very warm-hearted and with something of a dreamer hidden inside, he gives the movie its touching appeal.
Both Steen Svare as Kaj and Dorota Pomykala as Magdalena give strong performances, and she deservedly won a Robert (the Danish Oscar) for best actress. We cannot help caring for them as persons because they are so real.
Director Lone Scherfig has made a similar touching portrait of awkward dreamers in her recent movie "Italian for beginners", which won the Silver Bear in Berlin. Both movies are highly recommended if you want to walk out of the movie theater with a feel-god yet thoughtful experience.