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This Danish thriller's delight is in the details

'Reconstruction,' an experimental trip through alternate realities, offers a mysterious affair, two beautiful leads and sensuous cinematography.

September 17, 2004|Carina Chocano | Times Staff Writer

"Reconstruction," a stylish romance from Denmark that toys with narrative structure like a cat entertaining itself with a lizard, is a rabbit-holey metaphysical mystery. The film's title doesn't do it any favors, setting up an expectation of closure that the film, happily, disappoints. Moody, sensual, fetishistic in its detail, "Reconstruction" is one emotional thriller that can't lay claim to anything resembling a shocking conclusion. But it creditably re-creates the hesitation, creeping doubt and fear that attend life-shaping decision, especially in love. Unless you're looking for specific answers to your what-ifs, you'll enjoy the experience.

One night in Copenhagen, a handsome young photographer named Alex (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) meets a beautiful blond named Aimee (Maria Bonnevie) at a bar. From their coy, clever and superficial banter, it's unclear whether they've met before. Alex seems to think he's picking Aimee up, and Aimee seems to think they arranged the meeting earlier. After agreeing to meet again later, Aimee returns to the hotel where she is staying with her husband, August, a famous Swedish novelist who writes about love, and who spends more time with the protagonists of his latest project, called Aimee and Alex, than with his wife. Almost as soon as Aimee and August step into their hotel room, August goes out to meet his editor.

Meanwhile, Alex and his girlfriend, Simone (also played by Bonnevie, sporting a less vampy look), eat dinner with his father. On their way home, he spots Aimee on the subway, and once again it almost seems as if he were seeing her for the first time. Alex ditches Simone, spends the night with Aimee, and wakes up to find his world has disappeared. Could it be some sort of authorial revenge?

"Reconstruction" might have gone in any number of directions with this premise as a starting point, and to director Christoffer Boe's credit, it takes the road less likely to lead to an American remake. "Reconstruction" brings up more questions than answers, but if the plot is fractured and experimental, more of an existential exploration of alternate realities than a straight-ahead mystery, the look is gorgeously old-fashioned. Shot on a variety of film stocks, including surveillance camera footage, 35 millimeter and blown-up Super 16 that produces an image like the one I remember from my grandmother's bunny-eared Zenith, "Reconstruction" is a visual delight.

Bonnevie and Kaas are impossibly beautiful, and Boe gets up close. Isolating and fetishizing everything that is lovely about them, he barely distinguishes lashes, whiskers and fingers from diamond rings and a gold Cartier cigarette lighter. Everything blends in a haze of longing, so that watching it feels like being in love.



MPAA rating: Unrated

Nikolaj Lie Kaas...Alex David

Maria Bonnevie...Aimee Holm/Simone

Krister Henriksson...August Holm

Nicolas Bro...Leo Sand

Peter Steen...Mel David

A Palm Pictures release. Director Christoffer Boe. Producer Tine Grew Pfeiffer. Executive producer Rumle Hammerich. Screenplay by Christoffer Boe & Mogens Rukov. Cinematographer Manuel Alberto Claro. Editors Mikkel E.G. Nielson, Peter Brandt. Costume designer Gabi Humnicki. In Danish with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Exclusively at the Landmark Cecchi Gori Fine Arts, 8566 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 281-8223, and the Edwards University 6, 4245 Campus Drive, Irvine, (949) 854-8811.

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