20 October 2011 | Brakathor
Without a doubt, the most interesting aspect of this film is the fact that it was shot in the space of three years, specifically so we can watch the characters as well as the actors grow on film, and Malmros makes a point in showing the female lead grow LITERALLY. In terms of the pathological side, this technique, something I've always wanted to see on film, happens to work well on some of the character's/actors better than others. The male lead was probably more convincing in his development overall.
That being said, what new does this director bring to the screen aside from this one point of interest? Virtually nothing, as this is yet again ANOTHER period piece from a man seemingly inescapably trapped in the past, which he can never get back. A film almost identical to his prior, and probably more successful film "Kundskabens Trae" merely for it's own ambiguity, both films end almost identically. However, In attempting to establish a more focused storyline here, in my opinion he succeeds LESS at capturing what his other film did; a glance at life in the past, which here, 40 as opposed to 20 years later seems rather like a painful step back, and the entire film falls into melodrama as with the sub plot involving the female lead's father, or how the male lead reads the secrets in his girlfriend's diary.
It is a bleak and depressing film in that there is no real conflict but simply subtle aggravation revolving around an unconsummated unfulfilled romance where the 2 character's bounce back and forth, treating the relationship that the film focuses on, more superficially than is needed to be a worthy basis for a film in my opinion. It would seem that all the characters have bleak uninteresting academically oriented lives, and while aspects of youthful naivety are there, they are not well rounded. All you really get comes from the main character, and he entirely consists of two simple notions "I like to study hard, and I am involved in quasi relationship that I don't know how to interpret".
The bottom line is at this stage in his career as a director, the ambiance and FEEL of the period he is working in does not seem authentic or encapsulating anymore, but more like a cry of help. On one hand you could argue, at least he is showing us what he knows, rather than embarrassingly attempting to show us what he thinks the youth of today are like, as with directors like Larry Clark, and largely failing, but what I will say, is that any artist has to grow and see and express new things from new angles, whereas this man seems to be stuck in the narcissistic deconstruction of his own life in every one of his films, and here it becomes a bad thing, as some scenes are becoming more stagy, The director needs to take his experiences and apply them to today, not simply re-hash them, but like many directors, he seems to be one who has only one message to deliver, the first time successfully, followed by a series of hickups. It is really not that it is a horrible film, there is simply very little of note about it.