Reconstruction (Denmark; 90 min.)


directed by: Christoffer Boe
starring: Nikolaj Lie Kaas; Maria Bonnevie; Krister Henriksson
Reconstruction
 
Michael says: "Superficially, RECONSTRUCTION is a tale of two couples, and the adultery that occurs between two of them. Alex is in a pleasant relationship with Simone, and while she loves him dearly, he never seems to want to say the words unless pushed. Aimee is married to successful author August, who brings her with him on his book/lecture tours, then leaves her alone in fancy hotel rooms. While their relationship seems companionable enough, there is little passion, or even love evident there. When Alex meets Aimee at a bar, and the two immediately fall into a game of possible recognition he finds his world turned upside-down.

"RECONSTRUCTION is the type of film you don’t want to know too much about before seeing it. There are several different ways you can look at the film: take it at face value – a pseudo-science fiction, psychological thriller, look at it entirely metaphorically, or as a construct. The film goes even further in pointing out its fictional nature than Catherine Breillat’s ‘disclaimer’ at the beginning of ANATOMY OF HELL. It’s interesting that in the last couple of months I have seen three films that overtly remind the viewer that they are movies (Michael Haneke’s FUNNY GAMES being the third.) It’s a device that directors use from time to time, but usually not quite so obviously. It’s an important element in RECONSTRUCTION.

"Danish director Christoffer Boe effectively unleashes a bag full of filming techniques and conventions. The graininess of the digital video was slightly annoying at first, but as things lightened up, the occasional graininess became a plus. Jump-cuts, rapid edits, intimate close-ups, narrative voice-over, and a strong score are all masterfully utilized, and while occasionally distracting as one piled up on another, most enhanced the storytelling. Alex was wonderfully played by Nikolaj Lie Kaas, who I have seen twice before in Susanne Bier’s OPEN HEARTS and the yet-to-be-released BROTHERS. Maria Bonnevie, a Swedish actress who played Aimee, was superb. Both will be on my lists of nominees. Hilary, here’s another great prospect for the Best Actress group. Supporting actor Krister Henriksson will be familiar to fans of the Swedish film, FAITHLESS.

"I wish I had been present at the Eye Opener last week to catch the discussion on RECONSTRUCTION. Scot, Peg and I had our own mini discussion on the T as we returned to Boston. I’m sure we’ll be talking about it for days to come. 4 cats"

 

Scot says: "I loved this. Very refreshing, even right down to the speculative fiction element. Stuff I've seen often before (in fact, as I said to Michael, the film uses nearly every classic editing trick in history) but put together in a way that says something entirely unique.

"This will be getting Best Actor/Actress, Supporting Actress, Direction, Cinematography (despite some annoyingly grainy video), Original Screenplay noms from me.

"5 cats - one of the better films of 2004."

 
Tom says: "RECONSTRUCTION may be a clever movie, but I didn't think it was a good
movie. I got the premise pretty quick in, was annoyed by it and impatiently waited for the last forty minutes to come groaning to an end. I don't mind when a movie plays with timelines and reality, but to attempt all this movie does, pull it off fairly well and still bore me to tears is quite the accomplishment.

"Different people are going to get different things from this movie, no doubt. My wife and I disagreed on who the villain was. I'll make no attempt to defend Alex (played by Nikolaj Lie Kaas, who I hope his 'poor me' face worn throughout the film was him 'acting,' however badly, and not a permanent affliction), but I found both of the roles played by Maria Bonnevie equally annoying, distracting Alex from whatever purpose he
initially set out upon, always the woman's job, it seems. And don't get me started on August. Men as doormats, women as distractions. Whee.

"Now when I say that Aimee and Simone served as distractions for whatever goal Alex was seeking at the time, it's not as if his original intentions were that engaging or noble in the first place, so I can see why he would be so easily engaged in a another direction, in the end gaining nothing by pursuing everything.

"If the message contained within was all woman (or stages of relationships) are the same, I couldn't find a message more wrong either way. No relationship is better than a bad relationship, sure, but I didn't think that message was in there. Be content with what you have? Also balderdash. Am I rambling? Hell yes. I think the key to this whole film centered around Alex's father, who refused to acknowledge Alex after what I can assume has been a lifetime of neglect by Alex (which we have to assume with the only
other scene containing the two). Losing sight of what really matters while chasing the shiny baubles of life leads to unhappiness.

"So, in the end, was Alex chasing two goals while being easily mislead from each path, ignoring his own salvation? Early in the film, Alex asks his friend (and therefore the audience) would you do anything to be happy. Neither incarnation of the woman seems to be enough, since both distract him from the path he's chosen at the time. His salvation may lay with his father, but that path is now unopen to him. And I'm giving this movie more thought than I want to.

"It has given me an urge to watch something by Hal Hartley soon, however. '

 
Carolyn says: "A movie about the construction of a storyline. 'It is a film. It is a construction. But still, it hurts.' As simply as possible: two guys, two girls (the same girl?) one is a writer, the other a character in the novel. The character, Alex, cannot choose between two girls and keeps going back and forth, but each time it’s as if he is meeting the girl anew. A comment about doubting love and how choices affect us. (maybe?) 4.5 cats (til I see it again)"
 
Diane says: "A conceit, and with unsympathetic characters. I'm with Tom on this one. 2 cats."
 
Bruce says: RECONSTRUCTION is a surreal, existential musing on the illusion of love. Or at least that’s how I see it. As Beth Curran pointed out when she introduced this film as a Buried Treasure at the 2005 Chlotrudis Awards, no two reviewers on earth are in agreement over the meaning of this film. For me the intrigue adds fuel to the flame. However, I would not recommend RECONSTRUCTION to anyone who prefers things all spelled out.

"A man and a woman meet in a bar. He starts out with 'Hi.' 'Hi.' 'Are you coming?' 'Coming?' 'Yes to Rome – we have to hurry to make the plane.' As it turns out they are strangers or, more accurately, a figment of August’s imagination. August (August Holm) is a writer who is stumbling in his attempts to finish a novel. He is married to Aimee (Maria Bonnevie). It is Aimee that August pictures in the bar. The man in the bar is Alex. Later we learn that Alex is already romantically involved with Simone, also played by Maria Bonnevie but looking entirely different. Throughout the film Alex pursues Aimee as he destroys his relationship with Simone. As Aimee develops interest in Alex, August suddenly is more attentive. She wonders why.

"It is a toss-up which is in worse trouble, August’s marriage or his novel. August believes that love, for a woman, is a necessity, something she plans and relies on. Men, he thinks, want to take women by surprise. Love is an embarrassment, something that gets in the way.

"Throughout the film we see overhead shots of Copenhagen pinpointing where the characters are in relation to one another. It is an interesting visual technique and serves its purpose well. What does not work so well is the film’s occasional drifting into unnecessary darkness. It is absolutely unfair to concurrently confuse the viewer mentally and visually. In spite of – or perhaps because of - the obscurities, the film lingers on in my mind. 4.5 cats"