Unga Astrid [Becoming Astrid] (2018)

Unga Astrid
Director: Pernille Fischer Christensen
Writer: Kim Fupz Aakeson, Pernille Fischer Christensen
Cast: Alba August, Maria Bonnevie, Trine Dyrholm, Henrik Rafaelsen, Magnus Krepper, Björn Gustafsson
Seen on: 18.12.2018

Coming from a poor farmer’s family, Astrid (Alba August) is a driven young woman who jumps at the chance to work at the local newspaper when she is 16 years old. She gets along well with the editor-in-chief Reinhold Blomberg (Henrik Rafaelsen). In fact, they start to have an affair. When Astrid ends up pregnant, it’s a wake-up call for her. She goes to Denmark to have her son there. As she is in no position to raise him herself, she leaves him with a foster family, but is resolved to get him back as soon as possible. But building a life as a young woman is no easy task.

Becoming Astrid is an interesting biopic that isn’t made by the fact that it is about famous writer Astrid Lindgren – it would have been just as engaging if it had been a film about a woman called Astrid who doesn’t rise to fame later-on. I really enjoyed it.

The film poster showing Astrid Lindgren (Alba August) and her son on a train.
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Endzeit [Ever After] (2018)

Director: Carolina Hellsgård
Writer: Olivia Vieweg
Based on: her own graphic novel
Cast: Gro Swantje Kohlhof, Maja Lehrer, Trine Dyrholm, Barbara Philipp, Yûho Yamashita, Marco Albrecht
Part of: Toronto International Film Fesitval
Seen on: 7.9.2018

Germany has been infected by a virus that turned most of its population into zombies. There are only small pockets of humanity left in Weimar and in Jena. Vivi (Gro Swantje Kohlhof) and Eva (Maja Lehrer) are both in Weimar. They don’t really know each other and couldn’t be more different: Vivi seems barely equipped to survive a zombie world, she is so sensitive, while Eva is all toughness. But they both have the same goal: make it to Jena where they are working on a cure and find a better life there.

Endzeit sounds like exactly my kind of thing: a (German) zombie movie by and about women. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work for me, despite some very interesting takes and ideas.

The film poster showing Gro Swantje Kohlhof running away from a zombie horde.
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Kollektivet [The Commune] (2016)

Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Writer: Thomas Vinterberg, Tobias Lindholm
Cast: Martha Sofie Wallstrøm Hansen, Ulrich ThomsenTrine Dyrholm, Helene Reingaard Neumann, Fares Fares, Julie Agnete Vang, Lars Ranthe, Mads ReutherMagnus MillangAnne Gry Henningsen
Seen on: 26.5.2016
[Here’s my review of the play version.]

Erik (Ulrich Thomsen) just inherited the family house and he and his wife Anna (Trine Dyrholm) and their daughter Freja (Martha Sofie Wallstrøm Hansen) are about to move in. But they don’t want to move in alone. Instead they want to build a commune. So they find Ole (Lars Ranthe), the couple Steffen (Magnus Millang) and Ditte (Anne Gry Henningsen), Mona (Julie Agnete Vang) and Allon (Fares Fares) to move in with them. And this works rather well until Erik meets Emma (Helene Reingaard Neumann) after a few years and falls in love with her.

Kollektivet is a well-acted ensemble piece with great characters, but I do think that I was a little more taken with the stage version than with the film.

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The Cut (2014)

The Cut
Director: Fatih Akin
Writer: Fatih Akin, Mardik Martin
Cast: Tahar Rahim, Simon Abkarian, Makram Khoury, Hindi Zahra, Kevork Malikyan, Bartu Küçükçaglayan, Trine Dyrholm, Moritz Bleibtreu (in a mini-cameo)
Seen on: 15.01.2015

Nazaret (Tahar Rahim) is an Armenian in the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the 20th century. That is not the best place to be an Armenian and as the political situation results in the Armenian Genocide, Nazaret is separated from his family and forced into slavery in the desert, building roads. Against all odds, he survives the ordeal, though he does lose the ability to speak due to getting stabbed in the throat. When the situation allows it, he sets off to find his family again, a search that leads him across the world.

The Armenian Genocide is certainly something that we know very little about in Europe and so films like The Cut are important to give an introduction to the subject. But unfortunately, other than that it didn’t work for me at all.

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Den skaldede frisør [Love Is All You Need] (2012)

Den skaldede frisør
Director: Susanne Bier
Writer: Anders Thomas Jensen
Cast: Trine Dyrholm, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Bodnia, Paprika Steen, Sebastian Jessen, Molly Blixt Egelind, Christiane Schaumburg-Müller, Micky Skeel Hansen

Ida (Trine Dyrholm) has just halfway recovered from breast cancer and is planning a trip to Italy where her daughter Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind) is about to get married to Patrick (Sebastian Jessen). But just before she leaves, she catches her husband Leif (Kim Bodnia) in bed with Thilde (Christiane Schaumburg-Müller), her son Kenneth (Micky Skeel Hansen) deploys as a soldier, she meets Patrick’s father Philip (Pierce Brosnan), a grumpy workaholic and widower, and it just seems a time for rebooting all around.

Den skaldede frisør is quite the departure from Hævnen. Where that movie was all heavy earnestness, Den skaldede frisør is mostly entertaining fluff (in fact, the parts that try to be more serious don’t work out that much). Not quite what I expected, but I did enjoy it.


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En kongelig affære [A Royal Affair] (2012)

En kongelig affære
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Writer: Rasmus Heisterberg, Nikolaj Arcel
Based on: Bodil Steensen-Leth’s novel Prinsesse af blodet
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Alicia Vikander, David Dencik, Trine Dyrholm, Thomas W. Gabrielsson, Laura Bro, Cyron Bjørn Melville

Princess Caroline Mathilde (Alicia Vikander) gets married to King Christian (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard) and is sent from England to Denmark. When the two of them meet for the first time, Caroline quickly realizes that Christian is quite mad. Understandably, marital bliss is not forthcoming and the situation only relaxes a little bit when Christian starts traveling. During his trip he finds a new doctor, companion, guard and friend in Johann Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen) and brings him back home. When Struensee and Caroline meet, they connect over their revolutionary political views – a fact that changes Denmark drastically.

This film is pretty damn fantastic. Mikkel Boe Følsgaard is really good, the history is interesting but it mostly lives off the amazing chemistry that Mads Mikkelsen and Alicia Vikander have together and the way the relationship between Caroline and Johann is build. It was just brilliant to watch.

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Hævnen [In a Better World] (2010)

Hævnen is the newest film by Susanne Bier, written by Anders Thomas Jensen and starring William Jøhnk Nielsen, Markus Rygaard, Mikael Persbrandt, Trine Dyrholm and Ulrich Thomsen.

After the death of his mother, Christian (William Jøhnk Nielsen) and his father Claus (Ulrich Thomsen) move back to Denmark from London. That is, Claus still keeps working there and Christian stays with his grandmother. In his new school he violently defends Elias (Markus Rygaard) who is bullied a lot. Elias’ parents are in the process of getting a divorce – Anton (Mikael Persbrandt) spends most of his time in Africa as a doctor. Both boys feel left alone but strike up a friendship with each other. But Christian’s (self-)destructive tendencies are spiraling out of control.

Hævnen is a very serious movie. It asks Big Questions(TM) about difficult subjects and it does so very well. But all this seriousness gets a little stifling at times and then you wish that they’d just crack a joke. A little one. Please?
That is not to say that it isn’t an excellent film – it is. It’s just so obvious that the people involved decided that they would make foremost an important film. Everything else came second.

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DeUsynlige [Troubled Water] (2008)

Troubled Water is a Norwegian movie, directed by Erik Poppe and starring Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen, Trine Dyrholm, Ellen Dorrit Petersen and Fredrik Grøndahl.

As a young man, Jan Thomas (Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen) kidnapped a boy together with a friend; a boy who ended up dead. Now, he’s being released from prison and, having discovered a musical talent there, starts to work as an organ player in a church in Oslo. He slowly gets back on his feet, falling for the pastor (Ellen Dorrit Petersen) and her son, who reminds him of the boy who died.
At the same time, the Agnes (Trine Dyrholm), the mother of the dead boy, discovers that Jan Thomas is out of prison and her whole life is being threatened by that news.

This is an absolutely fantastic movie. It is beautifully done, with a great cast, a complex story and an interesting narrative structure. And it manages to make organ music cool.

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