Open Hearts (image 1)

The movie takes two strands of soap opera convention – a life-changing accident and an adulterous affair – and spins their suds into gold.

Stephen Holden, NY Times

Screened as part of NZIFF 2003

Open Hearts 2002

Elsker dig for evigt (Dogme 28)

Directed by Susanne Bier

Denmark In Danish with English subtitles
114 minutes 35mm

Director

Producer

Vibeke Windelov

Screenplay

Anders Thomas Jensen
,
Susanne Bier

Photography

Morten Søborg

Editors

Pernille Bech Christensen
,
Thomas Krag

Music

Jesper Winge Leisner

With

Sonja Richter (Cecilie)
,
Nikolaj Lie Kaas (Joachim)
,
Mads Mikkelsen (Niels)
,
Paprika Steen (Marie)
,
Stine Bjerregaard (Stine)
,
Birthe Neumann (Hanne)
,
Niels Olsen (Finn)
,
Ulf Pilgaard (Thomsen)
,
Ronnie Hiort Sorensen (Gustav)
,
Anders Nyborg (Robert)
,
Ida Zwinger (Sanne)
,
Philip Zanden (Tommy)

Festivals

Toronto, San Sebastian, London 2002; Sundance 2003

Elsewhere

Though the story that unfolds would not be out of place on lunchtime television, the emotional directness of superb actors and the close, observational style of director Suazanne Bier ensure that Open Hearts is more likely to remind you of the classic relationship movies Bergman was directing in the 70s. Bier is a veteran director who takes to the stripped-down Dogme style with alacrity, exploiting camera freedom to concentrate on performance and intensify the drama of psychological realism. The film’s protagonists collide, literally, in a car accident which leaves one of them paralysed, and the others shocked, guilty and craving consolation. Further upheaval becomes inevitable when the fiancé of the victim seeks emotional rescue with Niels, the physician husband of the driver of the other car. As conceived by Bier and writer Anders Thomas Jensen, and subtly characterised by actor Mads Mikkelsen, Niels is a most appealing man – and his wife (Paprika Steen) and children think so too. The repercussions of this attraction are depicted frankly and Bier is especially sensitive to the agitation caused to (and by) the physician’s teenage daughter. — BG 

"Bier has seized on the freedom and spontaneity made possible by the Dogme program, without taking onboard the movement’s snooty arrogance toward the mainstream. There’s no railing here against ‘bourgeois cinema’ or ‘bourgeois society,’ only a tough-minded sympathy for her characters as they struggle to cope with the circumstances inflicted on them, along with the ones they’ve created themselves. The rawness of the filmmaking simply reflects the ungovernability of the feelings. Late in the movie, Marie (played by the wonderful Steen, who has – pardon my bourgeois usage – starred in many another Dogme film), a wry, capable mother of three who’s just learned of Niels’ affair, breaks down and clings to her husband, begging him to stay with her. Later there will be candor and dignity enough, but this is the movie’s naked moment of truth, in which we see that grace under pressure, that pretty little Hollywood fiction, has next to nothing to do with life." — Ella Taylor, LA Weekly