2003 / 91m - Denmark
Romance, Mystery
Reconstruction poster

When I went to watch Reconstruction for the first time in the theatre, it were the numerous references to David Lynch's work that had lured me to this film. And while the link between both is absolutely justifiable I'd be doing this film (and Christoffer Boe) a great injustice to just leave it at that. Over the years Reconstruction easily surpassed the work of Lynch and turned out to be one of my all-time favorite films.

screen capture of Reconstruction

Reconstruction is equal parts mystery and romance. Not only is this is rare combination of genres to be featured in a single film, the fact that Boe seems to have mastered both of them to staggering perfection and knows how to balance these two elements without losing their individual strength makes this film a rare gem indeed. Boe himself proved that this is not just a lucky one-off either, as Allegro (his sophomore feature) boasts similar perks.

In Reconstruction Boe plays a game with his audience, but he plays it fair and square. The films start with the message that what we are going to see is all just film, a simple setup to entertain and move. Knowing that, the enchantment of film should be powerful enough to still make us care in the end. I've watched this film at least five times now and can't help but conclude the same thing as Boe, no matter how many reminders are given: it's all just film, but in the end it hurts just the same.

Reconstruction follows the story of Alex, a young photographer who falls in love with another woman (both women are played by Bonnevie). He chases her down the subway and ends up spending the night with her. Uncertain of what to do next, life chooses for him as reality and fantasy start to mingle and leave Alex confused and alone. His home is gone, none of his friends remember him and even his father rejects him. With nowhere else to go, he turns to the one woman that followed him through the reality shift.

screen capture of Reconstruction

Reconstruction is clearly a film by a first-time director with a vision. This means Boe likes to flex his visual muscles from time to time, indulging in eye-catching filters and striking camera tricks. These moments are aptly timed though and in between Boe shows he can also impress when toning down the trickery, relying solemnly on framing, lighting and camera work. Add a grainy filter and the result is absolutely stunning to behold from start to finish.

The music is equally beautiful, but definitely not as daring. Boe goes for accessible and well-known classical pieces (most notable Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings), but he integrates them so well that it's hardly an issue. A good thing too because otherwise such choices quickly come off as cheap and disinterested. Boe's timing is impeccable though, actually giving new depth and meaning to these well-known pieces of music.

The acting too is absolutely perfect. Kaas is great as the bewildered Alex, Bonnevie does an equally impressive job with both of her characters. The chemistry between the both of them is almost tangible and is further enhanced by Boe's close-the-skin camera work. There aren't that many secondary characters, though Boe fans will definitely recognize Nicolas Bro from Boe's Offscreen.

screen capture of Reconstruction

While Boe's keeps a very constant level of high quality, there are still a couple of scenes that elevate themselves above the rest of the film. The introduction, the first meeting in the subway and the outro all ever stunning scenes, but the test of faith scene that serves as the film's dramatical climax stands as one of my absolute favorite scenes ever. All things great about Boe's work are brought together in that single scene that has defined this film for me from the very first time I watched it.

If you don't like to be reminded that you're watching a film you might find it a little difficult to become immersed in the world of Reconstruction, as it was clearly made to prove a point. And if you approach it as a straight-up Lynch clone you might end up feeling a little cheated as in the end Reconstruction isn't really all that complex. Get past that though and I can't think of many other things that might deter you from watching this.

Reconstruction is a warm, fuzzy and romantic film, set in a world of cold bewilderment and intrigue, scoring high marks in just about every department that matters. And as long as you accept Boe's premise, it's almost impossible to find any faults with it. It's absolutely recommended viewing and even though Boe proved his talent in his later films, he never really succeeded in surpassing this one.