'The 11th Hour': Film Review

Courtesy of Brainstorm Media
An off-key attempt to identify with a woman's desperation.

Kim Basinger plays a woman who can't give up on having a child.

Certainly not your average drama exploring the damage a pathological need to have children wreaks on a woman's life and marriage, Anders Morgenthaler's The 11th Hour is considerably stranger than that. Putting star Kim Basinger through trials that transform her character's emotional state into genre-ready physical danger, the picture grows progressively extreme. The increasing discordance of its unlikely developments would be more easily mocked if not for the sincerity of Morgenthaler's artful execution (viewers might detect the influence of Lars von Trier well before seeing his exec-producer listing in the credits). But while some will stay with it to the end, the picture's ultimate niche is a small one.

Basinger plays Maria, a shipping executive who has suffered through eight miscarriages in her attempt to have a child with husband Sebastian Schipper. When he finally insists she must agree to stop trying, she cracks — driving off impulsively to an Eastern European city where she has heard children are being sold into prostitution. Her unformed notion of rescuing a baby there can't really be called a plan, and doesn't get more workable when she enlists the aid of Christian, a homeless, drug-addicted dwarf played by Jordan Prentice. Make that a homeless, drug-addicted dwarf in a panda costume.

Credibility is stretched thin well before we get to the Russian pimp (Peter Stormare) who cares more about Biblical justice than money. But the film deserves respect for its quiet attention to Maria's inner world — she continues to hear the voice of an unborn daughter who calls her Mommy and begs to be saved — and the sensitivity of Johann Johannsson's score and Sturla Brandth Grovlen's photography.

Production company: Zentropa Entertainments32Cast: Kim Basinger, Jordan Prentice, Peter Stormare, Sebastian Schipper
Director-Screenwriter: Anders Morgenthaler
Producers: Marie Gade, Julie Lind-Holm
Executive producers: Peter Aalbaek Jensen, Ken Meyer, Peter Nadermann, Lars von Trier
Director of photography: Sturla Brandth Grovlen
Production designer: Natascha Tagwerk
Costume designer: Silke Faber
Editor: Olivia Neergaard-Holm
Music: Johann Johannsson
Casting director: Mychal Simka
No rating, 97 minutes

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