1 July 2011
Dark Eye Archive: Reconstituted romantic noir at the wine bar in RECONSTRUCTION (2003)
Christoffer Boe’s Reconstruction is a bit like a Lost Highway for the wine bar crowd. Although it’s not half as sleazily compelling as Lynch’s film. It does, though, map out a romantic noir-lite territory quite convincingly and claustrophobically: troubled guy abandons his girlfriend and runs into the endless night; he meets another woman as events get psychologically bonkers. Its take on the artfully-surreal character drama – with added identity-blurring and identity slip-ups to further boggle the mind – gives a half-smile to a line of probable influences (Hitchcock, Chabrol, Rohmer and Haneke all seem likely inspirations), yet it manages to create a worthy impact all its own, even if it’s only partially rewarding. Many scenes – particularly the extended, intentionally baffling opening – feature well-heeled Danish posers perusing the often red-tinted interiors of classy establishments; they endlessly smoke cigarettes in a desultory, moody manner whilst mention of doomed meet-ups, future elopements and such occur. These moments are slightly clichéd, and often feel like they exist to impress the international festival crowd, but it picks up momentum with its twisty turns and fractured events, though not before it falls foul of its potential; ultimately little of interest is made of all the character switching.
Lead Nikolaj Lie Kaas, as Alex the perplexed photographer protagonist, is entirely believable: with the right level of needy panic written across his off-kilter yet rugged good looks he bewilderingly goes out of his mind with rangy accuracy. Better still is Maria Bonnevie in a dual role/performance as the girlfriend and the mysterious woman à la Patricia Arquette’s brunette and blonde enigmas in Highway; there’s also a slight nod to Carol Bouquet’s playful casting in That Obscure Object of Desire. Bonnevie plays the two women as oddly demure (Simone, the girlfriend) and cryptically alluring (Aimee, the stranger); her sadness in one of the two roles is particularly expertly conveyed with memorable sincerity. The fussy, ill-thought-out resolution is rather flat and doesn’t maintain neither the mystery nor the drama aroused earlier in the film, but it does retain some complexity and intrigue all the same. Its aspirant literary classiness makes for some visually intoxicating moments, but also some tonally flat outcomes.