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 To Tell A Beautiful Lie

Why make a movie about love–the king of clichés? In fact why make a movie when there is Hitchcock, Godard, Tarkovsky and Carax? I guess the existentialist question here would be why make anything–but let’s try not to be too deep. Let’s keep it simple and I’ll try to give a simple answer to a) Why cinema? and b) Why love?

So why cinema? I could say that for nostalgic reasons I’m in love with cinema and it has taught me life. That might tell something about myself and who I am–but who cares. The easy and probably most accurate explanation is that cinema has made me raving insane with a feeling that there is something I need to say and the way to do it is through twenty-four frames a second (when not shown on television). Twenty-four frames that are so much more than just a second. These twenty-four frames are life. True life. Much richer, fuller, more interesting, endearing, wonderful (and sometimes in an unlucky situation, more boring) than anything else we might come up with. So cinema it is.

But don’t we have all the masterpieces we need? We do and we don’t. Art doesn’t purify itself, nor does it become bigger, better and stronger over time (although some Hollywood movies seem to). Individual artists do in some cases grow/mature/become better. Vertigo is made by a master; Secret Agent is made by someone with the potential to become one. But art as such doesn’t really become better or worse–it just changes. Different times and developing technology demand new ways of telling the same old stories. We keep trying to get to the essence of things–and that essence is often easier to find when you’re removed from it, when you’re observing it, rather than when you’re experiencing it. Ergo: there will never be enough movies...but the earlier ones will probably always seem better. Make any sense? Probably not–it does to me.

Then there is the question of subject. Love. In many ways that’s simple too. There are things in life you can only do once. You get that one chance and if you blow it, well then you blow it. A debut film is one of those things. You can only make it once (which is why I’ve made one and a half–but that’s a different story that I won’t tell you). If this were to be my first (and maybe last) movie, the project had to be a labor of love, an homage and not an exercise in intertextuality. What do you love? I love cinema, Copenhagen, Fred Astaire, a woman, a man, a lot of cigarettes and a fucked up narrative. And let’s not forget the actors. I knew I wanted to work with Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Maria Bonnevie. When they look at each other love is in the air. So why make it so difficult? Let’s play the tune when it’s already there.

So that’s what I’ve been trying to do–to be as simple and honest about something you can’t say and you can’t make. Because you can’t say, “I love you.” You can’t make a close-up. It’s all been said and done. It’s a cliché the minute you think about it. There is no virgin ground left to dance on, but that doesn’t stop you from wanting to find it, from wanting to pick out that secluded spot no one has seen and to say to your lover those words no one has said. But it’s an illusion, like cinema. Sometimes illusions work–and often they work just because they are illusions. The hypnotic fascination of magicians exists, not in spite of, but because of the illusion. The cards are not magic, the body doesn’t float in the air–and we love it exactly because of that. We’re looking at a wonderful lie. Cinema works the same. No matter how much we know about the technique of moviemaking, no matter how many deleted scenes, alternative endings, directors’ commentaries we look at, when the movie begins it still works (if it’s good). So that’s what I’ve been trying to do. To tell a beautiful lie I wish I could believe. The lie of love.

 

Narrative convention is challenged in this fascinating debut by director/co-writer Christoffer Boe. Alex (Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Open Hearts), a rugged photographer, feels hemmed in by the devotion of his gentle girlfriend Simone (Marie Bonnevie of Insomnia and Jerusalem). When he encounters the ravishing Aimee (also played by Bonnevie), a neglected wife, he is instantly smitten, and they spend one perfect night together. But in the morning, their worlds disintegrate as Aimee's husband discovers her infidelity and Alex finds that the life he was living the day before literally seems no longer to exist.