November 15, 2007

Allegro: Music to soothe the Scandinavian breast


Reviewer: James van Maanen
Rating (out of 5): ***½

Spaces and places, their relationship to each other and to people who are in love: This rather odd subject matter seems to interest Danish writer/director Christoffer Boe to an extraordinary extent. Based on his 2003 Reconstruction and now Allegro (made in 2005 but released to DVD this past October), I'd say Boe is quite an unusual young filmmaker. His use of symbolism, too heavy for some, works just fine for me because he often twists his clichés, allowing them to surprise us by including more than what we initially expect. He also uses sci-fi/fantasy tropes less obviously than many current moviemakers.

Allegro tracks a world-class concert pianist who loves, loses, and must break through into a parallel world to find… well, all sorts of things. Boe keeps his movies short, which is wise; I don't think they could stand up to much increased length. He also appears to shoot (in Super-16 and DV, blown up to 35mm) rather quickly, which adds to the sense of immediacy and urgency (the cinematography is by Manuel Alberto Claro). Here, Boe combines some simple animation with his mostly live-action story to set things up and propel them along. This works, too.

In the lead role, Boe has cast one of Denmark's best and most oft-seen actors Ulrich Thomsen (The Celebration, Brothers, Mostly Martha), with attractive model Helena Christensen as his love interest. But the movie belongs to Thomsen--who brings a fine combination of gravity and confusion to the proceedings--and to Boe's bizarre but consistently interesting take on life and love. Some lovely classical selections, plus original music by Thomas Knak, help keep the film airborne.

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Posted by cphillips at November 15, 2007 9:33 AM