10 October 2011 | johnnyboyz
Goes about its idea and what it sets out to do in imaginative and expansive fashion; the end result, of which, we just about take to.
Allegro is an ample Danish drama with redemption at its core, a film arriving with some extravagant ideas and some far reaching ambitions which, for the best part, combine reasonably well. The piece is a constructive and involving character study; a film with an uplifting politic at its core about identifying the importance of one's foundations and of where one came from and a film about the power of memory. Above all else, the film relies on a great deal of surrealism and generally off-kilter content to prop up what is a somewhat simplistic tale of one man returning to his roots so as to eventually confront past mistakes. In short, the surrealism here comes across heartfelt and necessary; it doesn't overwhelm the text as it does in something like Inland Empire. We, the audience, are not buried nor bombarded with a series of tricks or gimmicks – there are no near-unencryptable semiotics plaguing what might very well be a simple story simmering beneath the surface, although both shot and told by an individual too interested in bewildering and alienating. On the contrary, Allegro is passable science fiction applied to a digestible premise somewhat resulting in an enjoyable piece about a man returning to a place, in which he experienced mostly negative life experiences, to do good this time.
Ulrich Thomsen plays the adult incarnation of Zetterstrøm, a young boy from Copenhagen when we first see him, whose snow cone always comes loose from its foundation only to fall on the floor and whose rides on fair ground attractions pack up the moment he gets on them, such is the hard-luck nature of his childhood existence. During these opening segments, of which are nicely animated, he additionally happens upon two things: the equally young Andrea (Christensen) and the creating of piano music. Andrea is good to him; a beacon of light where there was dark. Zetterstrøm then proceedings to abruptly terminate one of these two things, specifically Andrea's presence, when he up's and leaves to pursue his musical career in America in a black hearted fashion.
As years roll by, and either party grow into adults; Zetterstrøm doing well as a musician in his field, Andrea staying where she is, something mysterious befalls a district of their childhood stomping ground, the Danish capital. Principally, a bizarre field of energy causes global news when it lands and both engulfs as well as surrounds a section of the city, thus trapping the people already in there and stopping those on the outside from entering. This part of Copenhagen is re-branded "The Zone", a place terrorising its inhabitants on arrival with bright reds and blue hues flashing around uncontrollably and housing what appears to be diegetic music sounding like the sort of stuff Steve Roach might compose on an off day.
Fittingly, Zetterstrøm is due to return to Copenhagen for a concert stop; he departs America for Europe again, checking himself in his New York City hotel mirror in what is a telling moment of self-reflection in a literal sense with room to grow into a metaphorical one. Later, he will have to confront his own reflective self upon entering this "Zone" when the entering through a restroom mirror takes place. It is here the film mutates into a tale telling of his return, his curiosity and his uncanny interactions with an array of people; not least a glasses wearing man of some age whom seems to think getting Zetterstrøm into The Zone by any means would be a good idea. Further links to the aforementioned Lynch, creator of Inland Empire, rear up here when we think back to a similar character in his 2001 film Mullholland Dr. The writer/director for Allegro, a certain Christoffer Boe, whose ideas here frustratingly outweigh execution, at this point pumps his film with as much life as it ever possesses throughout; paying meek homage to Andrey Tarkovskiy's 1972 film Solyaris and eventually formulating his piece into a film about a guy heading into the unknown to try and tackle why it is certain things are happening - the stumbling across items much more personal and affecting than he first envisaged additionally rearing up.
Allegro is good value for what it is, a story we are able to wrap ourselves up in; off-the-wall content which does what it's supposed to do and remain looming in the background as this central tract of a man righting wrongs takes centre stage. The sense of there being this respective infrastructure to a creative, avant-garde element inserted into proceedings which has its own effect on surroundings we are familiar with feels additionally persistent. There is enough of a sense of adventure as he attempts to seek Andrea, flitting between the inner and outer Zone locale, and whilst the film does not have the power nor the majesty I think it perhaps deserved, Boe strikes us as a creative and enthusiastic filmmaker – the sort of person unafraid of setting bars high but at the same time, both eager and able enough to stick to rigid ground level ideas of character study and generic frills. Here, they total up into a substantial film watching experience.