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Home page > Review > A caretaker’s tale (23 November 2012)
Review
[en]

A caretaker’s tale by Katrine Wiedeman

Denmark- Black Nights Film Festival, Tridens Herring Competition  

A cynical middle-aged man, dried up by life’s burdens and abandoned by his wife, meets girl - a young, blond, beautiful girl willing to fulfill all of his desires. Will they get to live happily ever after? Probably not, but this film won’t provide us with this kind of answers, as it is a too personal, yet interesting film experiment rather than another love story.

It could be described as Per’s, who is the leading character, twisted version of the all-male Lolita fantasy. A silent Lolita brought up with some of the Dogme ‘95 principles, Lost in Translation from English to Danish as well as in her inexplicable Lust for Lust behavior. She is an oddly naive young woman who can’t speak, lies naked and alone in an empty apartment (until Per finds her) and simply won’t resist the coarse caretaker’s sexual impulses. His long-term sexual fantasy suddenly appears in front of him in flesh and bone and in a soft, bright light. And how does a stiff, emotionless man approach his mute luminous dream? He tries to buy her.

Then, Viborg, Per’s friend and all this cynic dark humor rush in to balance the girl’s angelic figure and that bossy master of the puppets, who are actually his people - the friends he never supports but has them following his lead, the drug addict son he intentionally ignores and his ex-wife he doesn’t even bother to bother about. However, it is the new “puppet’s“ healing powers which initially cut loose and eventually break the strings which the bitter puppeteer uses to control all of his puppets. Suddenly, all hopeless people facing serious medical problems line up to meet “the angel” with healing powers for an intercourse! That’s then the conflict occurs. Just then Per can clearly see his image in the emotional mirror of power abuse and decides to go one step beyond and break it. He loves her.

Despite Lars Mikkelsen’s overwhelming performance which distinctively commands us to delve into the leading character’s soul, we will never learn whether Per will love her in sickness and in health. Because this film is not about true love’s final destination but about its power to transform anyone who is brave enough to experience it.

Adapting some basic aspects of Dogme ’95 Manifesto to her personal style, the director eliminates any external factors which could possibly distract the audience’s attention from the main characters - certain sequences appear as if filmed by a hand-held camera and the visuals are realistic. She makes a brilliant use of light, subtly avoiding the good-bad bipolar cliché to emphasize the characters and their feelings even more. However, the film seems not to be able to reach its potential. The paradox convention about a pervert version of Lolita, which is created to criticize sexist fantasies, is not actually working because it never reaches that edgy a point, which would justify the surreal condition created. Even if the director’s satirical intention can be identified through the presence of this “horny angel”, there is no deeper level or obvious link to the dynamics of masculinity in fantasies and the power abuse which often occurs in personal relationships.

Will Per have a happy end? Probably yes, because this is not the kind of film which would have an unpredictable twist in the end of the story.

by Eirini Nikopoulou

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