Title: Open Hearts
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen
‘Open Hearts’ moves quickly under the intense stare of an overactive camera. The images vary from infrared film; to abrupt changes of angle (similar to the camera-work of BBC’s ‘The Thick of It’); to the blurred, super-8 style focus of Cecilie’s and Niel’s imaginations. This last technique links the two protagonists irreversibly together.
Like the filming techniques, the plot of the film is hastily stitched together from highly intense scenes. There are horrifically harsh moments when Joachim (Cecilie’s fiancé) first becomes paralyzed; followed by emotional wilderness for all of the characters involved. They blunder through this wilderness, completely confused, professing love and anger all over the place. Emotional connection gets endlessly misinterpreted, and in places gives way to scenes heavy with sexual breathing and more.
Eventually the connection between Niels and Cecilie leads to mutual sexual appreciation, despite Neils’ marriage and Cecilie’s injured partner (Joachim) remaining ever present in their lives. They risk being undermined by Neils’ sulky teenage daughter, yet eventually they cause their own undoing.
The version of the film I have on DVD is fairly poorly translated, but one line stuck with me: when Cecilie says to Joachim ‘You’re not going to smash like this.’ It covers the entire point of the film in one sentence. Luckily, however, the action speaks much more strongly than the words. There is one particularly brutal scene where Cecilie undresses and then, naked, tries desperately to hold her fiancé’s numb hands in position to touch her. Of course they keep falling down, and both characters end up in tears.
Yet the entire characterisation of Joachim seems pretty brutal. He is presented as some kind of human-sized leech. This seems cruel, and not especially honest. Yes he is bitter, and should be, but he comes across as suddenly evil after his accident instead of anything else. Although admittedly by the end of the film he has changed his tune again.