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CANNES — Danish director Christoffer Boe returns to Cannes seven years after winning the Camera d’Or (for “Reconstruction”) with “Everything Will Be Fine,” a psychological thriller whose enigmatic structure will have audiences constantly trying to put together the pieces of a fast-changing puzzle. The stylish film looks great, only once the dots are connected we are left with little more than a well-crafted, well-acted melodrama.
Boe has not yet hit the same commercial and critical appeal that he had with “Reconstruction” and internationally will probably do not so here either. Unfortunately, it works to the film’s disadvantage that it’s being marketed as a thriller since “Everything Will Be Fine” will not satisfy purists looking for a meaty conspiracy theory story.
The sleek visuals serve more than an aesthetic purpose, from the open credits imposed against bleach white models of houses, buildings, a movie theatre even, with tiny white figurines in various tableaux. For the film itself, Boe saturates the colors as always and DoP Manuel Alberto Claro occasionally and effectively uses a tilt-shift camera to render certain locations unreal and model-like.
Writer-director Jacob (Jens Albinus) is struggling to finish the script of his latest film just days before it goes into production, while he and his wife Helena (Marijana Jankovic) are on the verge of adopting a little boy from Eastern Europe. Helena is worried that something will go wrong with the final stage of the adoption but Jacob reassures her that everything will be fine.
In a parallel story, a young man of Arab descent, Ali (Igor Rado), is recruited by the Danish army to work as an interpreter in Iraq, leaving behind his anxious girlfriend Mira (Ozlem Saglanmak). Ali too tells Mira that there is nothing to worry about.
The men’s destinies cross when Jacob hits Ali with his car on a deserted country road near Jacob’s house. Before Jacob can go for help, Ali begs him to take his bag, in which Jacob finds photos of Iraqi prisoners tortured by Danish soldiers that Ali had smuggled back into the country with him. The young man’s body disappears and Jacob turns to his sister Siri (Paprika Steen) and her journalist friend (Olaf Johannessen) for help on how to publish the photos.
Boe reconstructs Ali’s return home through flashbacks as Jacob grows increasingly terrified for his and Helen’s lives at the hands of the government. But the man’s paranoia is so great that soon something seems rotten with Jacob, not just in Denmark. Could it be, as Helena and Siri say, that Jacob is obsessively lost in one of his stories again? Do Ali and the really photos exist or are they part of Jacob’s new film? Is it just a coincidence that Mira and Helena bear such a striking resemblance to one another?
Actually, the clues are all there in the beginning, and in something that Helene says early on to Jacob. But the final twist that brings it all together is a letdown, more hackneyed throwaway than emotional punch. One wishes that Boe had tried to tie things up with the same approach, for example, he and Claro take in filming another cinematic staple, a plane landing, that is original and breathtaking.
The spot-on performances from the leads elevate the film from simple bathos, even down to the smallest roles. Steen is captivating even when she does nothing and Soren Malling the embodiment of icy evil.
Venue: Festival de Cannes — Directors’ Fortnight
Sales: The Match Factory
Production company: Alphaville Pictures Copenhagen
Cast: Jens Albinus, Marijana Jankovic, Igor Rado, Paprika Steen, Nicolas Bro, Ozlem Saglanmak, Soren Malling, Olaf Johannessen.
Director: Christoffer Boe
Producer: Tine Grew Pfeiffer
Director of photography: Manuel Alberto Claro
Production designer: Thomas Greve
Music: Sylvain Chauveau
Costume designer: Manon Rasmussen
Editor: Peter Brandt
No rating, 94 minutes
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