Just Another Love Story Review

What a brilliant film. It's a genuinely fresh feeling to be drawn in and affected by a film nowadays - with so much stale material on a reviewer's plate, sometimes it's difficult to remember just how good films can be. Ole Bornedal's 2007 Just Another Love Story (Kærlighed på film) is an impeccably mounted neo-noir, using typical genre tropes to tell an immediate and effective story. It's a mix of genres that at first almost dares you to expect the film and filmmaker to let you down. But it never does. It never ceases to impress in telling an intricately plotted and perfectly crafted story with its potently talented director, cast and crew. The performances are stellar, the cinematography is gorgeous, the soundtrack is just right and the editing takes daring risks with symbolism that pay off in the end.

Jonas (Anders W. Berthelsen, playing the conflicted everyman to perfection) is a crime photographer with a wife and two children. Julia (Rebecka Hemse) is a rebel from a wealthy family who longs to break the monotony of her everyday life by traveling the world. The two are on a collision course from the very beginning but they just don't know it. Bornedal drops his first set of clues in the first minutes of the film and then doesn't return to them until the time is right.

Jonas and Julia both play a role in an accident that leaves Julia gravely injured and Jonas feeling guilty and responsible. Visiting her in the hospital, he is mistaken for her boyfriend. Out of a sense of awkwardness and respect before her family, Jonas assumes the identity of Sebastian (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), whom Julia met during her travels in Hanoi. Jonas supposes this to be a one-time thing but once he sees an amnesiac and partly blind Julia he spends time with her, and returns again and again, much to the chagrin of his co-workers and consistently questioning wife Mette (Charlotte Fich).

I dare not spoil any more of the story, which features the kind of pacing and tense moments you could only hope for. Suffice to say things get more complicated and threaten to unravel. The performances are terrific across the board; the actors are equally matched for the mind games and admittedly intellectually stimulating conversations on the nature of love and life (sometimes it honestly feels like a crime drama written by Ingmar Bergman).

Dan Laustsen, a Bornedal regular, wrings a serene beauty out of the simplest shots. A cottage by the shore becomes a respite for Julia's soul and a key scene during heavy-rain is likewise strikingly photographed. Joachim Holbek's ambient/acoustic score underlines the more emotional scenes with an unspoken longing as Anders Villadsen breaks continuity and repeats shots yet achieves an incredible flow when cross-cutting scenes. Bornedal himself has a directing style that defies complete definition, combining the elegancy of a post-Blindness Fernando Meirelles with the gifted pacing of the late Anthony Minghella (The Talented Mr. Ripley came to my mind when I had some time to reflect on this film).

Simply put, I could not recommend this film highly enough. It's not a masterpiece (few films are) but likely a benchmark for thrillers in this decade; it's a truly outstanding work that stays just within the constraints of its genre while subverting expectations at every turn. Seek it out, it's well worth it.

DVD Bonus Features

The only thing included on the disc is a trailer, which I would not advise watching before you see the film. I didn't myself and I was glad since after I viewed the film and then the trailer, I realized the trailer is spoiler-rific to the point where it diffuses a number of great twists the film has to offer. Honestly though, this is not a film that I would have wanted to see special features for so while it is unusual to have nothing besides the trailer, I think this might have been the intention.

"Just Another Love Story" is on sale May 5, 2009 and is rated NR. Crime-Thriller, Foreign, Thriller. Directed by Ole Bornedal. Written by Ole Bornedal . Starring Anders W Berthelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Rebecka Hemse.

Mark Zhuravsky • Staff Writer

I'm a prolific blogger, writer and editor who loves film.


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