Open Hearts (Denmark; 113min.)


directed by: Susanne Bier
starring: Sonja Richter; Mads Mikkelsen; Nikolaj Lie Kaas
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Esmé says: "I loved this one too! Danish, a Dogme film, beatiful, odd looking cast. I also coveted the Danish furniture and home decorations. (A young couple is torn apart when he is hit by a car and paralyzed. The girlfriend starts an affair with a doctor from the hospital (the husband of the woman who hit her boyfriend)
 
Diane says: "While Diane and Love (in LOVE & DIANE) declaimed and railed against each other in speeches that sounded scripted (but that's the way they talk), the dialogue in the scripted OPEN HEARTS sounded like real-life spontaneous stuff. Jan's
comment on this dogme story of adultery: 'Well, I can't say my attention wavered for a second.' We were in the grip of the grueling story right away, with its appealing and credible characters. Then it was gasps and groans for the rest of the two hours. I'll be nom'ing this for Best Ensemble and Director."
 
Michael says: "You'd think, after ARARAT and WHALE RIDER, that Peg and I have diametrically opposed viewpoints when it comes to films. Not so! Scot and I watched the screener for the Danish film, OPEN HEARTS over the weekend, and it's a real winner. The second woman-directed dogme film to be released in the U.S. (following Lone Scherfig's delightful, Chlotrudis-nominated ITALIAN FOR BEGINNERS) reinforces the notion that perhaps women have the touch when it comes to the movement. Granted, OPEN HEARTS' director, Susanne Bier, bends the dogme rules as much as the rest of them, but in my opinion, the dogme manifesto best serves small, personal films about relationships that eschew the histrionic confrontations that early dogme directors seemed to think were necessary.

OPEN HEARTS looks at infidelity, grief, bitterness, and emotional vulnerability in a quietly powerful way that is both realistic and emotional. When Cæcilie's finace, Joachim, is seriously injured in an automobile accident, she flounders emotionally... needing comfort and emotional release. She turns to a sympathetic doctor, whose wife and daughter were in the other car involved in the accident. The emotions expressed in OPEN HEARTS have a true quality to them, similar to ITALIAN FOR BEGINNERS, but unlike that film, there are no easy answers. We follow Cæcilie's journey from point A to point B, and she is clearly on her way to emotional recovery, but we certainly don't know what is next for her.

The acting in OPEN HEARTS is outstanding. Sonja Richter, reminiscent of Anette Støvelbæk, the blonde in ITALIAN FOR BEGINNERS brings to Cæcilie an emotional fragility and confusion that is masked by a sweet nature. Two terrific supporting parts come in the roles of Marie, and her daughter Stine, played by Paprika Steen and Stine Bjerregaard respectively, who were involved in the Joachim's accident. And Birthe Neumann almost steals the film as a deadpan nurse who puts up with Joachim's verbal abuse post-accident.

These characters angered me at times, and sometimes their behaviors seemed downright stupid, but given the complex situation and emotions involved, the screenplay is an elegant work. Life isn't easy, and neither is OPEN HEARTS, but both are rewarding." 4 1/2 cats