Stylish, complex and challenging, Reconstruction is a noir romance that teases the mind but leaves the emotions untouched. More convoluted than a trip down David Lynch's Mulholland Drive, the Danish pic's plot centres on Alex (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), a photographer who's involved with two women - both played by the same actress (Maria Bonnevie). With our hero soon facing an identity crisis, the screen becomes as clouded with confusion as it does with cigarette smoke.
Wilfully keeping viewers in the dark, Danish debut director Christoffer Boe's biggest concession to clarity turns out to be his use of overhead shots of Copenhagen marked with characters' current locations. A less helpful guide is the sporadic narration by August (Krister Henriksson), an author who's married to one of the glacial blondes that Alex hooks up with but who may have concocted the whole affair in his head. "Remember," he muses, "it is all a film. It is all a construction. But even so, it hurts."
"THE ACTING IS IMPRESSIVE"
Actually, though, it doesn't; the more elaborate the game grows, the further removed you feel from the players. A climactic attempt to evoke the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice only serves to increase the distance - not to mention the picture's pretension levels. That said, the acting is impressive, particularly from the beautiful Bonnevie, who gives Naomi Watts a run for her money in the dual-performance stakes.
There's no doubt that Boe is also one to watch. While his (over)use of Barber's Adagio For Strings is an aural cliché, it's hard not to feel a bracing chill from the teeming grain of his digitally shot visuals. It's just a shame that the film's emotional temperature is equally cold, its resolution just as fuzzy. Still, if riddles are your thing, then you'll get plenty of pleasure from picking Reconstruction apart.
In Danish with English subtitles.