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Friday, October 08, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Movie Review
Chasing Aimee, an existential romance

By Jeff Shannon
Special to The Seattle Times

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They say love changes everything, and that's literally the case in Christoffer Boe's "Reconstruction," a visually seductive metaphysical romance that won the Camera d'Or (for best first feature) at this year's Cannes Film Festival. Greeted with mixed reaction last May at the Seattle International Film Festival, it's an impeccably crafted, deliberately unsolvable puzzle, heralding the arrival of a promising filmmaker while suggesting the Cannes jury was a bit too generous.

Set among the cozy cafes and dimly lit bars of Copenhagen (beautifully photographed with geometric precision by Manuel Alberto Claro), Boe's mind-bender is an exercise in self-conscious artifice, beginning when a young photographer named Alex (Nikolaj Lie Kass) locks eyes with the gorgeous, equally captivated Aimee (Maria Bonnevie) during a subway ride. He ditches his girlfriend, Simone (also played, in plainer hair and makeup, by Bonnevie), and chases after Aimee.

Movie review

Showtimes and trailer

"Reconstruction," with Nikolaj Lie Kass, Maria Bonnevie, Krister Henriksson. Directed by Christoffer Boe, from a screenplay by Boe and Mogens Rukov. 90 minutes. Not rated; suitable for mature audiences (contains brief, mild profanity). In Danish and Swedish with English subtitles. Metro.

They enjoy a night of passion while Aimee's novelist husband, August (Krister Henriksson), is away. But when morning arrives, Alex's reality has utterly changed. As if the universe had hiccuped, his apartment has vanished, he's unrecognized by Simone and his best friends, and even Aimee, at first, doesn't seem to recall the previous evening.

Effectively conveying Alex's anxiety over his cosmic dilemma, "Reconstruction" takes its title literally, striving, with only moderate success, to reconfigure its romantic quadrangle. It's a parlor game played on existential terms, tickling the intellect while leaving its characters vaguely defined. As the avatars of Boe's philosophical conceit, they're more like chess pieces than human beings, although Bonnevie, as Aimee, is a luminously convincing object of desire.

While it seems, at first, that the anguished husband is a peripheral player, "Reconstruction" eventually reveals his greater, perhaps omniscient role in the story. Has he invented these characters? Are they real, or borrowed from reality? Boe avoids conclusive answers; he's more interested — and more successful — in creating a shifting landscape of moody, alternate reality.

In interviews, Boe has urged viewers not to try and make sense of his film. That's good advice, because like love itself, "Reconstruction" works on an irrational, off-kilter plane, filled with elation, regret and elusive second chances.

Jeff Shannon:

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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