Nothing’s All Bad -- Film Review

An alternately touching and shocking portrait of longing and loneliness in Copenhagen

In many ways the Danish cousin to Todd Solondz’s "Happiness," "Nothing’s All Bad," an accomplished first feature by Mikkel Munch-Fals, is a tragicomic take on desolation and desire that ultimately stands on its own unique merits.

Weaving its way through its intersecting stories, the strikingly-shot film runs a tricky course that veers from tender to disturbing to downright shocking and back again without a skipping an intriguing beat. 

The quartet of damaged souls who go looking for love in all the wrong places includes the newly-widowed Ingeborg (Bodil Jorgensen), a recently-retired, desperately lonely older woman who literally sits by the phone waiting for it to ring. Then there’s Anna (Mille Lehfeldt), a young teacher whose mastectomy has left her both physically and emotionally scarred.

The mild-mannered, middle-aged Anders (Henrik Prip) has a chronic problem involving handling himself in public. And finally there’s the attractive, baby-faced Jonas (Sebastian Jensen), a young man who takes an equal-opportunity approach to renting his body.

Those characters, all sensitively played by a highly expressive cast, will cross paths in surprising and shocking ways, with the various loose ends coming together in a decidedly knotty finale guaranteed to provoke both gasps and laughter.

While there are occasions where writer-director Munch-Fals threatens to overplay the depravity card, he manages to rein in those more calculated impulses in the nick of time and, grounded by those poignant performances, emerges with an unexpectedly potent balancing act.

Production companies: Zentropa Entertainments, New Danish Screen
Cast: Sebastian Jessen, Bodil Jorgensen, Mille Lehfeldt, Henrik Prip
Director-screenwriter: Mikkel Munch-Fals
Producers: Meta Louise Foldager, Stine Meldgaard Madsen
Director of photography: Eric Kress
Production designer: Charlotte Bech
Costume designer: Rikke Simonsen
Editor: Carsten Sosted
No rating, 93 minutes

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