Festivals, Film, Reviews
Jan 18, 2014


Slamdance’s Copenhagen offers strong humanistic experience wrapped with cinematic storytelling and deep narrative.


Looking to get away from anything remotely resembling his normal life, William a twenty-something American travels to Copenhagen to take a stab at connecting with his best friend during a guys-only trip. The often distasteful, brash and well, basically – asshole which William has become can be rather off-putting to those around him, which William finds out all too well when both best friend Jeremy and fiancé Jennifer, ditch him for a short nuptial trip to London. Now, as a tourist and a thrown aside third wheel William,  in an attempt to escape his centered life of self-loathing and sex, takes to pre-occupying his time with searching out his grandfather, in the hopes of delivering a letter from William’s estranged father. 

Adrift with a lack of knowledge in the Danish language or the surrounding city layout, William is left to rely on the kindness of strangers to give him some guidance as to where to begin his journey – luckily that stranger is Effy, a local student. Things start off on a rocky road between the two as William & his prickly sensibility almost steamroll right over Effy when they first meet at William’s hotel where the female student is stationed for the week during Praktik, a traditional internship for many Danish youth. Eventually things even out once the pair discover they have a connection through paths involving their own estranged family members. As luck would have it however, William with his familiar search discovers Effy having resources to fulfill the right information and paths to connect Will to the dots in finding his grandfather – a bond forms and both grow closer on a new journey together.

Unfortunately,  like most journey’s we have seen in the past – the turns, peaks and valleys are often the areas that are the most treacherous for us to survive – and here, in Copenhagen, the streets aren’t particularly know for being smooth; William better have his seat belt on cause his ride is about to get real bumpy.

Shot entirely on location in Cophenhagen, Toronto-based writer/director Mark Raso presents his newest film with sharp dialogue & gritty sensibility to put audiences in intolerable positions. Raso’s script is well-balanced with writing that displays a thoroughly believable relationship that’s naturalistically engaging & continues to move plot lines without ever seeming too thin. We get some faltering with a few points here and there that seem just too convenient but you certainly can’t ask for a perfect outing on your first feature length – plus it kind of adds to the entire ambiance of the film – hey, nobody’s perfect. Considering that Raso still holds on to a combination of fine timing, humor & sordid essence means he is aware of what works well and how to use it effectively without compromise.
While Gethin Anthony’s William is uneven from time-to-time, the actor manages to grab viewers with spontaneity & angst that is often reserved for more mature performers.  Frederikke Dahl Hansen’s a raw talent in the making but hands out a youthful excitement with an ease of sensuality that is dangerously mature – the chemistry which both actors mixed with Raso’s direction gives Copenhagen a grappling perceptiveness in longing and connection.
Overall while there are strong themes of love, connection & personal growth between sense of self and others very similarly seen in Linklater’s Before Sunrise, Raso has also added touches of dark solemness that hang in the air of this picture by way of Agatha Kaspar’s scoring, seamlessly juxtaposing the golden Summer softness which cinematographer Alan Poon has brought beautifully to this project. Raso’s Copenhagen turns in multiple layers that make for vibrant filmmaking and one which sees a young talent to be taken seriously.
A good film is one you immediately want to tell others about, or at least go see it a second time. Copenhagen makes you want to do both.
Rating: B+
Copenhagen screens again on January 21st at 6:15 PM (MST)