Friday, August 22, 2008


The Substitute. DK (c) 2006 Thura Fiction. Premiere: 2007. D: Ole Bornedal. SC: Bornedal, Henrik Prip. DP: Dan Laustsen - shot on 35mm - digital intermediate - color - film print 35mm Panavision 1:2,35. M: Marco Beltrami. Starring Paprika Steen (Ulla Harms, the substitute teacher), Ulrich Thomsen (Jesper), Jonas Wandschneider (Carl), Nikolaj Falkenberg-Klok (Phillip), Emma Juel Justesen (Rikke), Mollie Maria Gilmartin (Lotte), Sonja Richter (Maria). 93 min. Print: Det Danske Filminstitut, English subtitles by Jonathan Sydenham. Viewed at Espoo Ciné, Prix Méliès, Cinema Andorra, Helsinki, 22 August 2008. - Video look. - The substitute teacher turns out to be an alien from outer space. - Aliens come to the Earth to learn love and to abduct children. They arrive in the form of energy glimmer and incarnate a chicken farmer's wife, who becomes the highly energetic substitute teacher Ulla Harms. The children soon find out what's going on, but nobody believes them. - "Where I come from there is no love". - Excellent screenplay. The film proceeds dynamically, each scene motivated by the whole. - Top performances. Best of all: Paprika Steen as the surprising alien who terrifies by her wile, not violence. She can read minds, change surroundings, learn new things, conquer the suspicions by laughter and transform into one's dead mother. The gullible father and school psychologist are delicious. The children are excellent, starting with Jonas Wandschneider as Carl, who learns to accept the fact of his mother's death. - The strength of the film is that it is character-based: the people in it touch us, and Ulla terrifies us because she has no empathy. The message of love is ridiculed but it's the bottom of all. - Funny cheesy effects: the clouds opening, Ulla's quick shock metamorphosis, the final battle with the ball which controls Ulla's life force. - Malco Beltrami's music updates expertly B-movie conventions. Also the soundscape is delicious. - The director's forte is his sense of humour. He does not even need gags, he does very well just by setting the camera and directing the actors. There is a fine touch of parody all through the picture. - Young audiences probably will like it. - A film worth revisiting.

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