DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
BLEEDER (director/writer: Nikolas Winding Refn; cinematographer: Morten Søborg; editor: Anne Østerud ; music: Peter Peter; cast: Kim Bodnia (Leo), Mads Mikkelsen (Lenny), Rikke Louise Andersson (Louise), Liv Corfixen (Lea), Levino Jensen (Louis), Zlatko Buric (Kitjo), Claus Flüggare (Joe), Gordana Radosavljevic (Mika), Leif Nørreballe (Bookshop owner); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Nikolas Winding Refn/Henrik Danstrup/Thomas Falck; Shocking Videos; 1999-Denmark-in Danish with English subtitles)

 
"A bleak, poignant and comical slice-of-life drama about working stiffs who can't relate to women, are immature and stuck in deadend jobs."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A bleak, poignant and comical slice-of-life drama about working stiffs who can't relate to women, are immature and stuck in dead-end jobs, and who when pushed against the wall react out of desperation with senseless violence. Danish writer and director Nikolas Winding Refn ("Pusher") expands his storytelling from his action-based crime drama Pusher (1996), about a small-time drug dealer who feels worthless and life is closing in on him, with this quieter (less dialogue and no Pulp Fiction hipster chatter) more contemplative drama that's the second part of a proposed trilogy, as Refn goes for a more mature emotional outlook in his observations he makes about a wider range of disenfranchised characters trying to cope with their overwhelming life experiences. 

Louise (Louise Andersson) informs her pouting Copenhagen factory worker hubby Leo (Kim Bodnia) she's pregnant, which leaves him in further despair because he's not ready to be a father and he resorts to beating her up causing a miscarriage. Leo has two interests in life--getting out of the house to hang out with his buddies and watching action films, while wifey prefers quiet nights at home and preparing for motherhood. The buddies of Leo include Louise's thuggish and racist small-time gangster brother Louis (Levino Jensen) and the anti-social Lenny (Mads Mikkelsen), who clerks at a video store and is a movie buff geek who can only talk about movies. He's so shy that he gets tongue tied when trying to talk to the neighborhood diner waitress he hopes to date, the quiet bookworm Lea (Liv Corfixen).

The dramatics take place when Louis warns Leo not to slap his kid sister around again, but Louis can't help himself but hit her again over a foolish spat they had over house decorations; the other big incident is when the withdrawn Lenny finally gets up enough nerve to take Lea to the cinema to see the idiotic action film Armageddon, as these two peaceful social misfits are the film's most hopeful characters and best chance for making a love connection.

For Refn, much of the world is losing its sense of decency to an assault by pop culture that has put it into society's head that excitement is the prize worth seeking in life; the director questions where the new dumbed down lifestyle is leading the younger generation, that has porn and empty action pics as the vogue in films and reading good books as something left to the older generation and the lonely who mostly read because they are bored. 

When the domestic spat between Louise and Leo turns violent and can't be curbed, it leads to a mindless tragedy. For the filmmaker, it's clearly a lack of communication, bad jobs, a poor economy, a sense of cultural deprivation, acting macho like they do in the movies and a poor education that plays a big part in how things get violently out of hand among the lower-classes. Kim Bodnia, Rikke Louise Andersson and Mads Mikkelsen give superb melancholic performances reflecting modern mankind's struggle in an urban setting to find a way to connect with their inner selves, as well as with others. It's a small film with simple aims, one of which is to get a better grip on the human condition among those self-loathing men who are labeled as society's losers. 

REVIEWED ON 7/28/2008        GRADE: B+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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