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Palm Pictures presents
Reconstruction (2004)

"It is all a film. It is all a construction. But even so, it hurts."
- Narrator (Klaus Mulbjerg)

Review By: Matt Peterson   
Published: March 30, 2005

Stars: Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Maria Bonnevie
Other Stars: Krister Henriksson
Director: Christopher Boe

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sensuality and brief strong language
Run Time: 1h:27m:40s
Release Date: March 29, 2005
UPC: 660200310226
Genre: foreign


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B-B+B C+

DVD Review

Is life truly what we make it? Where does free will—the power to choose our own destiny—end, and where does fate begin? Does one or the other have exclusive power over our lives? In Reconstruction director Christopher Boe explores the fragmentation and uncertainty of life, cinema, and storytelling, seen through the literary eyes of an eloquent author whose personal life is in disarray. Still, the film does not subscribe to the expectations of such a concept. In fact, the protagonist is not the author at all.

Alex (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) is a photographer living in the urban labyrinth of Copenhagen. The gruff-looking young man spots a beautiful Swedish woman in a dark café. He sits next to her, and boldly invites her to Rome (the place to go for love according to Danes). Aimee (Maria Bonnevie) is intrigued by this man's unrestricted confidence. His words unspool with strains of poetry; a bit unnatural, yes, but all the more captivating to the blonde beauty. The two form an immediate connection, but there is one problem. Alex already has a girlfriend, Simone; likewise, Aimee is married to a prolific author, August, a man who knows he has neglected his marriage and is not surprised when evidence of infidelity crops up.

Once Alex meets the alluring Aimee, strange things begin happening. No, this is not The Forgotten, but events are similar; suddenly, Alex is a stranger to his landlord, best friend and even Simone. It is a dizzying series of events. Initially suspecting a practical joke, Alex clings to the last ounce of familiarity: Aimee. However, her husband's affinity for writing romantic novels comes into play once more. Fantasy and reality inexplicably interact, controlling Alex's fate like a cruel puppeteer.

Christopher Boe's debut feature is a visual feast, capitalizing on Copenhagen's fine locales through the use of some jazzy satellite shots that detail the locations of key characters. I do wish the visuals were a bit clearer, though. Shot in grainy anamorphic, there are elements of Lars von Trier's visual sensibilities here, but this is far more meticulous and stable than the head spinning images of his compelling Breaking the Waves. The film's style is effective, creating a unique environment for the view that is both alluring and unsettling. Seemingly in love with these visuals, Boe takes little time in developing much depth beyond the bleached surface.

This is an intriguing concept, no doubt, but the script lacks the meat to make the relationships something worth rooting for. Instead of scenes that develop the mood of love with patience, Alex meets his lovers in a rushed fashion, dishing out poetic lines that prompt women to leap at him. This is somewhat hard to swallow, to say the least. Even when these characters are "in love," chemistry is minimal. This is a real shame. The film amounts to a cinematic experience more than a satisfying love story. Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Maria Bonnevie (who plays both girlfriends with distinction) give their best efforts.

Regardless, the visual and thematic strengths in Reconstruction make it worth checking out. Boe's ideas can be confusing at first, but are worthwhile: how much of reality is constructed and/or written? Are we the pawns of a grand story already inscribed in stone, or is the future left to us? These elements are apparent, challenging the viewer's perceptions.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Palm's anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer is decent. Long lenses were used frequently, and the image has an intended grainy/bleached look; the transfer reproduces this patina well. Contrast is solid, and detail is good, but some shots can look muddy or soft.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Danish & Swedishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Danish & Swedishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby 5.1 audio is front-centered with minimal surround activity. It's an effective choice that is not showy, and is appropriately atmospheric. Barber's Adagio gets heavy use. A Dolby Stereo track is also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Nomi Song, Gunner Palace
3 Featurette(s)
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: Extras include the film's theatrical trailer, trailers for other Palm titles, and three interviews. We are treated to comments from director Christopher Boe (12m:21s), Nikolaj Lie Kaas (11m:50s), and Maria Bonnevie (07m:36s). Boe's comments are intriguing, covering the details of the production, film school, the use of Copenhagen, films about love, and why people smoke (think Bogart). The two lead actors discuss the story, script, their character(s), working with Boe, and more. These are some interesting, candid bits, shot in split screen black-and-white.

Oh, by the way, Boe says it's okay if you think the film is a load of crap.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

Christopher Boe's debut is certainly a thematic fascination, but lacks the kind of depth that would take it to the next level. It's a visually engaging, unique experience that shows off the qualities of Copenhagen; there's real promise here. Palm's disc is well constructed.

 


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