Rasmus Heisterberg is perhaps most well known to date for having written the screenplay for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo but this Dane’s putting himself on the map as a writer-director with In The Blood (I Blodet).
In The Blood is about a defining time in a young man’s life. It’s summer in Copenhagen and Simon’s enjoying the bright nights as always – drinking and partying and waking up in a stranger’s bed, late and hung-over for class where he’s a successful medical student. He’s content to have this repeat on an infinite loop, but the friends he shares an apartment with are not. They’re ready to sell up and move on – to girlfriends, babies, and different cities. Simon’s hitting the brakes hard but his friends’ growing-up momentum may just pull him over the cusp into adulthood, like it or not.
Kristoffer Bech, usually performing with his band Shiny Darkly, is well-cast in his first role. As Simon we see both his playful spirit and also a creeping melancholia as impending adulthood and responsibility cast their shadow over carefree youthful days.
In The Blood carefully studies the tipping point in an identity-seeking year of one’s 20s. There’s joy and freedom, reflected in the saturated cinematography by Niels Thastum. Copenhagen looks lush and full of life. But there’s also confusion and uncertainty in this self-seeking, and unfortunately, that’s reflected in the film making too, in overlong scenes that don’t accomplish much, and a run time that feels bloated.
This movie has a personal edge to it that veers into self-indulgence at times. Simon isn’t a very likeable character and it’s hard to hang in there as he flails about between one bad decision and another. As much as it may seem all-engrossing to the person going through it, this kind of personal growth is a little boring to watch.
Film festivals are curated by the best in the business. That said, when you’re seeing a couple of dozen films back to back to back, usually knowing very little about them, it’s inevitable that you’ll rub up against some you don’t like. I didn’t connect with this one. At all. I found it insufferable. But I still want to stand up and applaud this first-time director for getting his baby over an ocean to a world-respected film festival. That’s an accomplishment. And if this is the worst thing I see at TIFF this year, that’ll be an accomplishment too.
This review first appeared on Cinema Axis.