Just Another Love Story (2007)

Love hurts…

Despite the grim nature of his job, crime-scene photographer Jonas (Anders W Berthelsen) lives a happy, balanced life with his wife Mette (Charlotte Fich) and their two young children. There’s nothing to suggest that Jonas isn’t happy with his lot, until the day that he witnesses a violent car accident in which Julia (Rebecka Hemse) is badly hurt. Although she is a total stranger, Jonas feels compelled to visit Julia in hospital where he is mistaken for Sebastian, Julia’s new boyfriend. And, in making a split second decision not to correct the mistake, Jonas is drawn into a new existence that is soon spiralling wildly out of control…

This Danish thriller from writer/director Ole Bornedal plays out like a classic ‘40s noir given a new lease of life. All of the genre elements are here; the fatalistic narration which bookends the film, rain-slicked streets, shadowy revelations and, of course, the beguiling mystery of a beautiful young woman. But although Julia is the catalyst of the film, who (albeit unwittingly, for she is half-blind and suffering amnesia) motivates Jonas to carry out actions he would never before have dared, the real dramatic momentum comes from within Jonas himself. Watching him slowly but surely assume a whole new identity, to see how easily he throws off the trappings of one life for the thrill of another, is enthralling. This is thanks to perfect performance from Berthelsen as a man plunging uncontrollably towards his fate, and the chemistry between him and co-star Hemse which throws sparks out of the screen; it’s easy to see why he has fallen so far under her spell.

But, of course, men who cheat must be punished, and so there is a deadly twist in the tale that – despite being fairly obvious, and faintly preposterous – is handled with skill, creating a wild climax that suits such an intense narrative. Add to the heaving mix some exceptional, atmospheric cinematography from Dan Lausten, a soundtrack resplendent with siren-song motifs and some deft editing that constantly underlines the link between sex and death and Just Another Love Story is anything but. Instead, it is a thrilling, nightmarish vision of the devastating power of a mid-life crisis left unchecked.

4 stars

Stars Anders W Berthelsen, Rebecka Hemse, Charlotte Fich
Director & Screenplay Ole Bornedal
Certificate 18
Distributor Revolver Entertainment
Running Time 1hr 44mins
Opens July 24

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