'The Immoral' ('De Umoralske'): Helsinki Review

Courtesy of Helsinki International Film Festival
Don't look here for the next John Waters or Lars Von Trier

A man pimps the mother of his infant out to pay for a trip to Spain

Hell-bent on offending middle-class mores but lacking any of the pointedness or humor that might give its transgressions satirical bite, Lars Daniel Krutzkoff Jacobsen's The Immoral offers prostitution not as a metaphor or social ill but simply as something one does to shock the squares while saving up money for vacation. Unappealing on all fronts though never exactly boring, it may draw small crowds of the curious at fests but should have little life beyond.

Hanne Bache Hansen and Kjetil Skrede play Camilla and William, who've just had an unplanned baby and are leeching as much as possible off the welfare state. When the dole runs out and child-protection officers start coming around, William takes action: He finds a new place to live and puts Camilla to work on her back. The venue is the home of a rich single dad who is out of the country for work; his layabout, rapper-wannabe son Anders (Torunn Meyer) is stupid and cash-poor enough to agree to let them move in after being promised part of the take. He winds up developing a puppy-dog crush on the woman, and his fantasies of being her boyfriend are a tiny bit more understandable given that the film forgets the baby exists for most of the time she's under his roof. One has to think a screaming infant would spoil the mood for both Anders and Camilla's clients.

Cinematographer Jorgen Kluver bends over backward in search of ugliness: He jerks the camera around senselessly and zooms at random; the filmmakers overuse a peep-hole effect without finding anything meaningful in the frame, and overlay the image with hand-animated flowers and animals that crudely comment on the action. (A galloping horse, for instance, points out that our characters are getting the hell out of Dodge.)

Though Hansen is competent in her unappetizing role, supporting players are less convincing; given the broadness of the screenplay, where a team of four writers can't explain why characters are behaving as they are, perhaps they're not to be faulted.

Production company: Atomfilm

Cast: Hanne Bache Hansen, Kjetil Skrede, Daniel Gjerde, Torunn Meyer

Director: Lars Daniel Krutzkoff Jacobsen

Screenwriters: Lars Daniel Krutzkoff Jacobsen, Einar Sverdrup, Bendik Grossmann, Didrik Jacobsen

Producers: Julius Kemp, Ingvar Thordarson

Executive producer: Odd G. Iversen

Director of photography: Jorgen Kluver

Editor: Rodrigo Stoicheff

Music: Joachim Knoph, Magnus Murel

No rating, 89 minutes

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