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1. An analogy best explains this film: we have all probably seen a video of a master with his dog. Sitting in front of the dog is the most delectable treat imaginable to the dog. The dog does nothing even though every fiber of its being wants to gobble up that treat. It is waiting for its masters command. The Masters here are the writer and director, the dog is the male lead. The girl is the treat (and not in a prurient sense). She says she will be 15 (the age of consent) "in a few days". He wants to pounce (But not in a sexual sense even though there is obvious physical attraction).
2. The age difference is not for shock value. It is a very effective plot device relating to 1 above.
3. They are alone in a hotel room, both drunk (largely at his insistence). She is the aggressor. The reality is he cannot believe she is only 14 and repeatedly says that throughout the movie. She tries to seduce him, taking off her blouse and kissing him which he appears to accept.
4. The "masters" do not outright state that they did not sleep together but instead, more effectively, make that clear by: they both wake up in bed fully clothed (she must have put her top back on) in sharp contrast to his other many dalliances where he graphically wakes up with a naked partner; just prior to this he turns down an offer that most males his age dream about – two beautiful drunk girls try to drag him back to their hotel for a threesome. Instead of going with the women, he is much more concerned about having hurt the girl's feelings and rushes out of the bar, leaving the women, to try to call the girl and apologize for acting like a jerk. So, the attraction is not about sex per se. there is much more to his feelings for the girl and he is clearly conflicted. He does not sleep with her.
5. There is more to him than meets the eye: he is in Denmark to find his grandfather and understand why he was abandoned by his father. The girl, with a great heart and overlooking the fact that he is superficially an insensitive jerk sees something deeper in him and embraces the cause of him finding his past and takes it upon herself to help him.
6. The girl, is far more substantial and mature than the women he has been sleeping with (who is really older, the girl or his earlier partners?). She too, has a troubled family but is very close to her mother and wants to help him resolve that part of his life.
7. In one effective scene, he simply glances down a street and sees a father briefly interacting with his son (short and effective).
8. The most effective scene in the movie: she takes him to a museum. She brings him to a dark corner where there is a bust. She tells him she has never brought anyone there before. She stands next to the bust. It is an exact image of the girl. She tells him she is really hundreds of years old and he says the bust is 1500 years old. This scene is a metaphor for what the movie accomplishes. After 1500 years, here she (who posed for the bust) is here again, resurrected, with the human traits that allowed us to survive over those 1500 years: the yearning for family, love, and a striving for happiness even in an imperfect world. In other hands this might seem corny, here it is movie-making genius.
NOTE: Anything considered a spoiler in this review is a soft one. This is a picture that needs to be seen and I'd hate to ruin it for anyone.
The entire cast and crew are to be congratulated for making such a beautiful film filled with love and quality at every turn. Writer/director Mark Raso has crafted an unconventional love story that shouldn't offend anyone if you give yourself to the picture and to the characters. What's most striking is that it never once feels disingenuous; it holds true to itself until the very end. No spoilers here, but the ending does not compromise anything that was so carefully and quietly set up in the previous hour and a half.
The two leads, Gethin Anthony and Frederikke Dahl Hansen, are fantastic. They really sell it and Hansen, in particular, is a wonder to watch. Her subtle performance goes that extra mile so naturally that it's nearly shocking this is only her third feature film. Keep an eye on her career. She's got moxie! I don't know moxie is but whatever it is, she's definitely got it. But seriously, I think I could have fallen in love with Effy, too, only it would be even more gross for someone three times her age, much less twice. Effy is a fun and endearing character that makes it all too easy for William to find himself falling for such a free spirit. Anthony has the unenviable role of starting out a picture as a right angry a$$hole (to his best friend and everyone else) and gradually transforming into a warm and caring man. Between his performance and Raso's script and direction, he pulls it off.
Copenhagen is a beautiful city and Alan Poon's camera captures it with such detail, admiration and allure that it's practically an invitation to be a part of it. This is his first narrative feature film as cinematographer. The young talent associated with this picture is staggering and most impressive. Hell, it's Raso's first feature film as well. His choices in music for the picture, from the Danish songs to Agatha Kaspar's score (her first feature, too!), only add to the magic of the film. The song that Effy sings at the karaoke bar is mesmerizing and it feels like the grounding moment that solidifies the bond she now has with William. It's a powerful scene.
Ultimately, the maturity of Raso and his co-conspirators in art and beauty boils down to a pivotal scene near the close of the film. The choice Raso makes with these two characters hinges on making or breaking the film and he does exactly what was needed to stay true to their story. I kept waiting for the ball to drop, not for my lack of knowledge about these film makers but because so often there's something that will take you out of a picture that has worked so hard to keep your attention. It might not ruin it but it dilutes what was carefully constructed. COPENHAGEN doesn't compromise itself with convention or societal acceptance. The relationship William and Effy have is told with such grace that it pulls you in, making you care deeply for them, wanting it to somehow work out but knowing that it shouldn't. The moment they kiss for the first time (don't worry, it's nicely done) took me back 30 years to when I had those 'first' moments, moments I haven't felt in a very long time. That's how much I was drawn into this picture. How it plays out (the film and not my teenage love life) and how it concludes is a journey you need to take. Keep this on your radar. Hopefully it will be available to the public by the end of this year.
Spoilers beyond this point.
This is what I thought about the movie: William was a damaged person who could never relate to women. Women found him attractive, but all he did through his whole life was have sex with them and throw them away.
When he was in Copenhagen he really needed Effy's help and he wanted to sleep with her badly, but when he found out she was 14 the fear of getting in trouble kept him from doing it, but then something else happened. Since the legality slowed him down he really had to get to know her and he really did love her deeply and not just as a girlfriend, he loved her as a person. She was his friend and girlfriend though unconsummated.
When they were in the hotel and she wanted to have sex with him he wanted to very badly, but I think at this point it was no the law that stopped him. What stopped him was that he really cared for her and he knew she was too young and it would be bad for her so he stopped himself.
I would guess Effy's motivations were that she never really had a father so she was attracted to older men. Like is hinted at in the movie in the beginning, 'she needed someone to lean on.' William was a poor choice but as I said above her age and the law slowed him down enough so that he became that better person that she could lean on.
Perhaps in some ways it seemed erratic at the time, but I think this came to a head when he punched her mother's boyfriend. she wasn't going to let anyone hurt her no matter what the consequences.
Effy taught him a lot too, she helped him live and grow and you see this in the final scene when he observes the two seas she was talking about.
I have to say that now that this is on Netflix it is quite likely that this will reach a wide, wide audience and that Frederikke is going to be a huge star. She has the looks, the voice, beautiful accent, and the screen presence to be a major, major actress. She can do anything she wants after this movie. I believe this is her "Winter's Bone." Other than Frederikke the whole cast and the entire movie is just wonderful. watching it for the second time right now.
For those that say this is about a man taking advantage of a 14 year old girl....that is the last thing it is. It is about this girl helping this man to not just become a man, but to become a good man and she succeeds, even if it was not her intention.
I'm giving this 9 out of 10 stars.
I would also like to point out the beautiful camera work. The long dolly shots and creative use of light are amazing. While I do wish that the lead actor could have given a more original performance and been less stereotypical. The same statement also goes for a hand full of the supporting cast. However those things do not take away from all of the wonderful points of the film.
It's a simple story of two souls who discover and guide each other over 24 hours together in Copenhagen.
It has definite similarities to Rich Linklater's Before Sunrise (another of my favourites) but where it differs is in the mismatch in the two's age and maturity.
Here Effy (played by the amazing Frederikke Dahl Hansen) is only 14 years old, and William (Gethin Anthony) is in his late twenties. However it's Effy the 'teenager' who guides William on his journey to discover his family (and himself as a man in the process).
The soul journey and connection between this women-like teenage girl and this boy-like grown-up man is compelling.
A must watch, not only for the chemistry between these two, but also the beauty of Copenhagen. Loved it. You will too.
The story line is fairly simplistic; Obnoxious man-child finally meets the girl that makes him grow-up. However, what is so delicious about this movie is the dance between temptation and morality. The budding relationship between William and Effy is awkward, yet irresistible. Effy, masterfully played by Frederikke Dahl Hansen, is both innocent and desirable. She has the beauty worthy of ancient art work and an incredible sweetness. She is the lure that nurtures the growth of William. He is instantly unlikable, but she forces him to tread lightly. He is immediately draw to her, but is also cautious. While the truth about her is slowly revealed, he tries to create distance and perspective, but the gravity of her attraction is powerful and so they start to revolve around each other. The scenes become like a train wreck in slow motion. The crash has become obvious, but inevitable. So, while we brace for impact, we are also sucked in and can't look away.
The delicate part of the dance is that as Effy intensifies her advances, William is maturing. He never seems to pursue her, but seems unable to resist her. He motivation seems more honest. She has abandonment issues and is desperate for someone to love her. So, once she begins to engage with William, she becomes somewhat compelled to gain his acceptance. Because her need is not sexual, but emotional, it is deeper, slower, more constant and intense.
The moral dilemma for William is simple, so it allows him to easily disregard all of his previous views of women and become more genuine. The brilliance, is how slowly the relationship progresses. We see her sing to him and watch him defend her. We see him turn a blind eye to a sexual fantasy, just to be with her. So, when they kiss on the dance floor, we are wrapped up in the moment. The back drop of Copenhagen, where the age of consent is only 15, blurs the lines of right and wrong. While a 28 year old kissing a 14 year old is clearly wrong, you can't help but cheer for it.
The dance reaches its pinnacle when Effy removes her top in an attempt to become completely sexual, only for William to finally mature into the protector and cover her. The undertone story arcs close off nicely as William visits the place where the two seas meet to demonstrate that he has learned the meaning of true relationships and Effy gained the acceptance of a father figure. The audience comes out of the dance with relief as the movie ends with Effy's head in her mother's lap showing that through all of this, she retailed her innocence.
Why not just have her be 17? But they had to make her 14,because at 15 the whole underage conflict would no longer exist as a legal question. Although it still would as a moral issue. Enough on that.
I don't know why they chose English actors to play Americans, but this male lead was totally natural and believable. I consider him the star of this movie. The other reviewers are "gaga" over the girl.
But remember that we are viewing her as non-Danish people. We are sucked in by her accent and the scenery. But if we were Danish ourselves, we might just think she is an appealing young thing, without being in awe of her.
Having said that, of course she did a nice job of portraying a precocious girl from a broken home with just the right amount of worldly wisdom and sincere innocence.
Other reviewers have skillfully pinpointed the fact that these guys were emotionally immature while the underage girl is emotionally advanced. Because of that, it makes perfect sense why they would be drawn to her.
The movie highlights a certain prolonged adolescence prevalent in many Western men. It takes some a long time to grow up.
Essentially the movie features a substantial character arc. A selfish, boorish guy learns what it means to truly care about another person, both in terms of his father and his new female friend.
I really wanted to know what he did for a living back home. I didn't need a long description of it, but it would give some much-needed context. I also needed to know about his mom. This background information could have been satisfied in a few brief remarks or one conversation.
Copenhagen looks nice. I don't know enough about Cinematography to judge it here, but there were definitely some nicely framed shots of water and colorful homes.
The music was a key factor for me. There is a scene where our male lead is walking on a beach or something, and there is a dramatic electronic beat steadily gaining volume and steam. I loved that.
Check it out. It's worth watching, despite the creepiness of the age-related sexual tension.
The city of Copenhagen turned out to be the best setting for this romantic film. It was refreshing to see a movie filmed somewhere other than the usual filming locations and this one made me appreciate Denmark a little bit more.
The directing, the casting, the cinematography and the music, all add up and lead to the most majestic experience you could ever gain by watching a film. It made me want to travel abroad and date a foreigner, learn about their culture and gave me a very feeling of wanderlust.
It's true that, in the beginning, I thought Frederikke Dahl Hansen was not a great actress, but that proved to be just the way her character is supposed to act because she feels kind of guilty, kind of naive as a 14 year old. Gethin Anthony was very sexy and very romantic at the same time, in his own ex-douche bag way but both actors delivered a wonderful performance.
I also liked the fact that this film features a big age gap, let alone an age gap between an adult and a teenager. Needless to say, dating an underage person is a controversial topic but this film handled it very well.
10/10 though I wish I could give it more. It's a must see.
7 out of 10
True talents to both characters but the real gem is how the director/writer crafted those intriguing small talks between them. This movie is an art.
The above said, the film is absolutely worth watching. Dahl Hansen produces a superb performance combining both a wisdom beyond her 14 yr old life, with a hint of teenage naivety that sees her attach to William. I also think whilst Gethin Anthony's character isn't very likable, he does gel well with Dahl Hansen and we see some great scenes that are very memorable; the Karaoke scene, the awkward discovery of her age and the theme park ride among them. There is a gorgeous scene when we see them cycling the streets of Copenhagen (with the possibly underused Jeremy character) that is verging on euphoria. I've not been to Copenhagen, but seeing this film has definitely made me want to go.
So 6 out of 10 is my final score. With a better written lead male, this could have been a 9 or 10. On the topic of the underage aspect, the film addresses this fairly well and shows that it is not unduly bypassing it. We are somewhat led to believe that their companionship has transcended their ages, with the dangers of that relationship highlighted well in the row scene between William and Jeremy - one of the more interesting scenes with the two male characters involved. So go see it, but see if like me you feel one half of the critical relationship just needed re-configuring.
There is an additional complexity to the story in that his friend is going to get married in Europe, but Gethin Anthony is 30-ish "American" William, who alternately says he is from New York or from Canada, seemingly cautious about the reception he might get from Europeans. His mission is to find his grandfather and his only clues are an old letter from his deceased father and some old photos.
Quite by accident he meets 14-ish ("I will be 15 in a few days") Frederikke Dahl Hansen as Effy. In her home country she is quite an experienced young actress and she is great in this role. She has such an interesting and pretty face, and such a natural acting style that she never seems like she is acting, she really seems to be her character and she, more than he, makes the movie what it is.
(An important side note, there are romantic scenes including brief topless nudity in a hotel room, but the actress was in fact over 18 during filming and this is stated clearly also in the end credits.)
So the story arc over a couple of days has Effy helping him figure out ways to find his grandfather and William growing up a bit in how he relates to people. He finds his grandfather who asks him "Was you father a good dad"? To which William responds, "No he wasn't, but he didn't much example to go on."
A good film for a different style, I couldn't stop watching it.
SPOILERS: Before they part both William and Effy claim they love each other, for William the first time he has reached that level of caring for anyone. For Effy it was a childhood infatuation, she probably didn't yet know what love really was. He heads back home, she heads back to her school classes. In the very end she is being cradled by her mom who asks if she is too old for a certain birthday treat and she says no, indicating that she indeed is still a little girl, but one with unusual wisdom for her age.
This may sound implausible at first, since William seems like too basic a guy to have much interest in his family background—and the idea of a haunting family secret that dates back to WWII is indeed a movie cliché— but Raso makes it right by filling in a few details of the couple's personal history. William's American wingman and Effy's mother's sketchy boyfriend (plus a couple of drunken woo- woo girls from Jersey) turn up at intervals to keep things moving, but the developing relationship between the two leads gives the film some real momentum. This edgy romance between a messed-up boy-man and a precocious girl is very deftly handled, IMHO; I didn't find it the least bit cringey, as some reviewers have done. Something like "Before Sunrise," it's the story of a love affair that takes place a little outside of time, and it ends on a suitably wistful note.
Dahl Hansen's expressive, unselfconscious performance—according to a disclaimer at the end of the credits she was "at least 18" when the film was made —is just about perfect. I wouldn't have spotted Gethin Anthony as a Brit (an Oxonian no less and an unsuccessful claimant to the throne of Westeros, Renly Baratheon, on "Game of Thrones"), and he does a fine job of sustaining our interest in this unlovable character. You may start to feel that there's some hope for him after all.
However, I obviously was invested enough to sit through to the end, so I wouldn't say it's the worst film I've reviewed... not even close. It has moments, not very many but some, the scene where he confronts his Grandfather is an engaging example. Overall, it has great potential, but it's executed poorly. I do know of people that like it, but it's just not for me.
P.S. Go visit Copenhagen, it's awesome.
As the title says, it really is an ode to Copenhagen. I must visit soon, it looks like a beautiful, free and modern city. Put it on my bucket list. Really. Go there, it looks awesome.
Although some reviewers didn't like the William character, I completely believed his change in attitude and lifestyle. Tthe self-obsessed, vile man-child changing into a compassionate, protective and gentler human being is being played very well by the actor Gething Anthony. Praising the Danish actress for her role is easier because she plays a sweet, naive-but-wise, vulnerable girl. She acts great and I loved her, but I cannot says this without mentioning her male co-player.
Some things in the movie I didn't like? Sure. Obnoxiuous William having a best friend for 20 years...? That friend returning to Copenhagen after whisking off to London (why London?) all in the same day? I found this Jeremy character unnecessary. I believe William's character was strong and rounded enough without the addition of a best friend. He annoyed me, their 'friendship' annoyed me. Another character in the movie that didn't have to be added was that of Effy's stepfather Henrik. The audience already got a glimpse of her life (always out, no rules, stealing, entering without admission) to know that her home situation must be difficult. Like Jeremy, the movie didn't need Henrik to clarify Effy's character. I think it would have worked fine if it had focused on the protagonists alone and have Jeremy and Henrik be side notes like they did with Effy's uncle, or the barkeeper, etc.
I liked the ending, I was afraid it would turn out differently but it didn't. Especially liked the fact that William made the trip to Skagen and came to terms with his past... AND his future. That last shot left me with a great big, satisfying sigh. I really hope their lives went well (and yes, I KNOW it's only a movie).
William is an American/Canadian tourist on an adventurous bender across Europe with his best friend Jeremy and his tag along girlfriend, whom William detests. On his to-do list is to deliver a letter from his father to its rightful owner. When left neglected by his best friend who promptly leaves William behind in Copenhagen, the letter gathers importance for him, who is otherwise content being inconsiderate and childish to everyone around him- including Effy, a teenage waitress at the hotel where William has checked in. Unable to read the contents of the letter, William asks Effy for help who commits to tracking the recipient of the letter, William's grandfather.
One of the most touching moments in the film is when William learns that he is the grandson of a Nazi corroborator. His father who had abandoned him was also left abandoned by his own father. The familiarity of this desertion is genetic. Seated in a quiet room of a distant relative, there is no one except Effy, a stranger then, who gets William's predicament.
Imagine William's state of mind when he finds out that Effy, who has been part of this intimate, shocking discovery and whom William seems to grow fond of, is underage. The rest of the film delves into William's own sense of discipline and morality and Effy's discovery of a childhood she never had. Effy, brilliantly played by Hansen is at moments vulnerable, effervescent, spontaneous, and more perceptive than William, who even in his late twenties seems to behave like a moody, cantankerous, entitled, teenage boy. Her 'resting bitch face' to William's off brand sexist humor is brilliant.
The bicycle rides in the film open up vistas of cobbled alleyways, brightly colored apartment blocks, flirtatious and honest banter between the two, and moments of interlude in the story.
The second most touching moment of the film is when William takes Effy to a club and in a rush of emotion blurts out that he loves her. Gethin Anthony does a fine job playing a man so overcome with this alien realization that he doesn't know how to mend himself better to express this. This is followed by a childish game of 'shark attack'.
Effy returns the sentiments later in the film reclined in William's hotel bed. Her confession is soft, hesitant perhaps, as it's quickly followed by "you told me you loved me already". She tries to seduce William but here is when we see how much William has matured through the course of the film. It is in the same hotel room that he had previously had his one night stands, the same room where he had broken his laptop screen in a fit of rage- unable to decipher his father's letter, the same room where he once lay despondent, staring at the ceiling for clues.
The film ends with William at Skagen, point of confluence of the Baltic and North Sea. The metaphor for a perfect relationship- "you look to the left and you look to the right, and both seas are there. And they can meet in the middle, but they never lose themselves in each other. They are always themselves no matter what"- Effy.
As regards the sex with an underage girl issue that rapidly develops into the main topic for the film (the family tracing thing being merely a carrier thread - a shame really as there seemed more mileage in that storyline), well the "will he-won't he?" drama turned into more of a "why would she want to?" question for me and could be seen as failing here given that William appears younger than Effy in both the emotional and maturity senses. A missed opportunity perhaps.
So then, why am I reviewing this film? Well it's not to mention the actor playing the William character, as by cutting and pasting any one of a number of young male actors into the angry young man role would have sufficed, but instead it's to mention the young woman playing the Effy role - Frederikke Dahl Hansen - she was simply magnificent.