Christopher Boe on Love and Personal Identity in "Reconstruction"
by Liza Bear
Inspired by a Jacques-Henri Lartigue photograph of a woman standing in a room with empty bookcases, Danish director Christoffer Boe's first feature "Reconstruction" fittingly won the prestigious Camera D'or at Cannes in 2003 and a Golden Plaque for Manuel Alberto Claro's luminous wide-screen cinematography. It brings closure to the exploration of themes of love and personal identity begun in three earlier shorts, "Obsession," "Virginity" and "Anxiety."
"They're all about a young male being obsessed by a beautiful woman and then being trapped in his own logic of what love is," says Boe, 30, a passionate still photographer as well as moviemaker. It's that logic which Boe dissects in "Reconstruction."
As its title suggests, Boe uses a fractured narrative and startling visuals to create a haunting rumination on the mysteries of desire (and the consequences of acting them out), rather than a romantic comedy. A kind of triangular square dance, "Reconstruction" sports excellent performances from its leads, with Nikolaj Lie Kaas playing Alex as a cypher and Maria Bonnevie doubling up as both Alex's steady girl-friend Simone and his new flame Aimee. It doesn't help Alex that Aimee is married to older man August (Krister Henriksson), who happens to be a writer. But it does give a few extra twists to the narrative. August is the film's narrator. There are echoes of Francois Ozon's cryptic thriller "Swimming Pool" here, though style and sensibility are poles apart. Having an attractive live-in girl-friend doesn't stop Alex from one day falling for Aimee, August's wife. A narrator who's also a character in the film naturally raises questions about what's real and what's imaginary. But then, so does being in love. The next day, Alex's world has changed, literally. His apartment has disappeared and so have his friends. An existential conundrum? Maybe. Or rather an attempt to create a metaphor for the paradigm shift that love induces.
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