When I started out this blog to watch and review 365 movies in 365 days, the purpose of it was to get a greater appreciation for film and to watch films that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Perhaps the greatest find during this journey is the 2007 Danish film Just Another Love Story. Written and directed by Ole Bornedal, this critically acclaimed film features some of the most gut wrenching scenes during this journey.
The film begins with three acts of love. We see Mette coming to the aid of her fallen husband Jonas. The second act is Jonas and Mette in bed together discussing their love life which concludes with the classic scene of a child walking in on their parents. The final act is of Julia and Sebastian, a couple in Polynesia who appear to be in love. In the scene, by the command of Sebastian, Julia is holding a gun to his head, then chest, and finally killing him.
Those three acts really set up the rest of this film. From here, we get a closer look at our main character Jonas, played by Anders W. Berthelsen, who bares a striking resemblance to Steven Weber circa 1992 during his run on the television series Wings. Jonas is going through a bit of a mid-life crisis. He is tired of the same scheduled meals, the same routine at work, (he’s a crime scene photographer), and tired of this mundane life. On his way to the city, his car breaks down on the road and is nearly struck by a distracted Julia. Julia’s car is hurled through the air, leaving her in a coma. The next day, Jonas, hoping to wish Julia well is denied entrance by the hospital as he’s not a family member. Undaunted, Jonas lies and claims to be her boyfriend granting him entrance. When he enters the room, he’s greeted by a large group of Julia’s family who all believe him to be her boyfriend Sebastian, whom they’ve never met. Jonas, too polite to disagree with them during this trauma, goes along with the story and soon finds himself too far into the lie to turn back. Julia begins to turn around thanks to his doting on her. He claims to have feelings for her and after she begins her recovery, Julia reveals she has amnesia. Jonas as Sebastian makes up a relationship between the two of them ultimately resulting her a near full recovery. Julia still has some trouble with her vision, but Jonas and her go off together with Jonas leaving his family for this new relationship. When they get to this oceanic retreat, they are soon greeted by a character that changes the whole dynamic between the two of them. The ending is satisfying by tying up all loose ends in the film. It’s a wonderfully scripted piece and easily one of my favorite films in a while.
Once again with these foreign films, I have a fairly difficult time discussing the acting by the main characters. It’s not that I’m not watching them or not influenced by the acting as much in foreign language films, it’s harder for me to judge their performances when all I really have to go by is the body language and facial expressions. I will say that actress Rebecka Hemse is tremendously brave in her performance. Not only does this film have some graphic nudity but the crew was not afraid to have Julia appear unglamorous in the film. The way she contorts her face at time looked genuinely painful and her performance as a whole really made me feel bad for this poor woman. I did want to give a quick mention to the character of Sebastian, the real Sebastian as portrayed by Nikolaj Lie Kaas. I first became aware of Nikolaj Lie Kaas from the 2002 Suzanne Bier film Open Hearts, which is probably one of my favorite foreign language films of all time. He also stared in the original version of Brothers in 2004 again by Suzanne Bier. I really like Suzanne Bier’s films in case that point hasn’t quite got across.
Getting back to the film at hand, there are scenes in this film Just Another Love Story, that genuinely made me nervous for the characters. It’s one of those things where someone you like does something bad, and you know it’s bad, but you still don’t want them to get caught in that wrong doing. With one exception, all of these characters are sympathetic and have great depth. It’s easy to see all sides of these situations and it’s something that I frankly think a lot of foreign cinema does significantly better than Hollywood right now. I know with the film’s title and the fact that’s it’s a foreign language film might scare off some people but really just give the film a shot. It’s really a tremendous piece of work and I’m so very glad I was able to catch up with this film. I suggest you do the same.