Just Another Love Story Review: Three’s A Bloody Crowd
As this dark slice of Danish arthouse begins to gather pace, there is a scene in which the leading man is given some advice by his best friend. “Beautiful women and mystery – that’s how most film noirs begin.”
If Ole Bornedal was under the impression that bracketing his film for the audience would be necessary, he was erring on the side of caution by a fair distance.
The picture is soaked in austere realism and surreal gore and explores a wide range of themes, twisting rapidly as the pace quickens. Despite the lack of a real sucker punch, it scores a convincing victory on points.
Just Another Love Story opens as leading character, Jonas, lies fatally wounded on a rain-drenched pavement. Two other abjectly climactic scenes follow before the film bothers with its conventional beginning, where we find Jonas living an average life in the suburbs, complete with wife, kids and supermarket shopping trips every Saturday.
His domestic bliss is punctured only by his grizzly job photographing dead bodies – a role that serves as an appetiser for the films recurring themes of mortality and unfulfilled ambition. (“I wanted to photograph landscapes”, laments Jonas at an early stage.)
Maybe if he had been a landscape photographer he might have been able to afford a decent set of wheels. Alas, when his car breaks down he inadvertently causes the terrible accident in which Bornedal’s principal female, Julia, suffers terrible injuries, losing her memory and sight.
Before you can say ‘plot mechanism’, Jonas finds himself drawn into a new life posing as Sebastian, the boyfriend she met on her recent trip to Asia. Needless to say when the boyfriend in question – who Jonas believed to be dead – turns up, the plot thickens at breakneck speed.
In places this film is absolutely gripping, but it is blemished somewhat by the absence of a stirring lead who really demands commitment from the audience. It does however, remain an intriguing vision from a distance and aside from the energetic insights of Jonas’s friend Frank, the film is coldly detached.
Despite this, the premise is excellent, breathing new life into old themes of identity theft and amnesia, and the pace satisfyingly brisk, (especially when one-dimensional badman Sebastian turns up).
With Sam Raimi and Mandate Pictures snapping up the rights to an American remake, this is certainly not just another love story.