Tuesday, 16 November 2010

LEEDS FILM FEST REVIEW: The Woman Who Dreamed Of a Man

Perhaps it’s time Europe did a remake of an American film. After all, a film this side of the Atlantic has barely been born before the US version is already in the works, usually a carbon copy of the original with bigger buck names and CGI thrown in for a glossier finish. 

For better or for worse, The Woman Who Dreamed Of A Man is Denmark’s answer to Fatal Attraction…but with, er, dreams. I’m not exactly happy with this, as up until the last crazy 20 minutes I thought the film was very good and was really enjoying watching the passionate affair between photographer K and lecturer Maciek develop and the way the story tousled with the idea of fate and destiny. Yes the script was ropey at times (lots of ‘surprising’ coincidences) but if you bought into the idea that these two are somehow connected to each other on a level akin to soul mates and no matter where their lives led them they will end up bumping into each other then it was a mesmerising watch. But the climax does let it down, and the cynics from the beginning will waste no time gleefully turning around to tell you what an awful 90 minutes you’ve just sat through. But somehow I can’t hate it – it was silly, but a good silly.

The film opens with K having a dream about a mysterious man – a dream so powerful she cannot shake it from reality…especially when the man turns up in real alive 3D the next morning in her hotel. Intrigued and perhaps a little bewitched, she begins to follow him until he cottons on to her presence and confronts her. Obviously sceptical about her dream, there is nevertheless an attraction between the two and they begin a lustful relationship of one night stands (in alleyways). Both are married and this puts a growing strain on the trysts, with one if not both of the pair behaving in more and more jealous and obsessive ways. Things come to a head when K’s agency sends her on a job to Warsaw, where Maciek lives (one of those coincidences!) and frightened about what she may be capable of if she goes, her husband unwittingly invites himself and their daughter along so they can have an impromptu family holiday. Messiness ensues. K cannot keep away from Maciek and her unexplainable absences and lateness cause her husband (Michael Nyqvist from the Millennium trilogy) to find out the truth about her affair. It’s once she separates from her husband that K starts to go a bit loopy – firstly taking up residence inside Maciek’s spare apartment that sits opposite his home so she watch him and spy on his family. Then she starts becoming obsessed with thoughts that every girl she sees him with is a lover, and when she is wrong begs for his forgiveness with an unhealthy need for sex (whenever, wherever) and slowly she deteriorates into this possessed woman whose only function in life is to be with Maciek. Needless to say the more intense she gets the more he backs off until he tells her to ‘get the fuck out of his life’. Then she finally loses it and starts running about with a knife… it’s all a bit too much, which is a great shame as it had potential to be a great character unravel.

The initial dream which catalysed all these events is largely forgotten about except at the end when it is revealed that he has also secretly been having the exact same dream about her. I don’t understand the point of tacking this on – if they were so connected then why not explore and conclude it in a more satisfying and gentle way? Why did you have to start throwing in all the crazy? You’re not sure at the end whether K goes back to her family, but she does appear to be the same woman she was before, indicating she has got over her madness. Closing a film like that isolates the episode, the affair between the two, and it all becomes a bit pointless and throwaway. What did it all mean in the end? Bugger all.

A very disappointing finish to what is a stylish and very sexy film. But let’s leave the Hollywood ideas to the big studios…or at least make it more about the person than the maniacal antics.

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