Monday, January 16, 2012

Review of "Lena" a film from the 2012 Palm Springs International Film Festival

Lena (Emma Levie who plays the title role) lives in Rotterdam with her mother Danka (Agata Buzek), who puts a flag in the window whenever she has a man in the apartment so that Lena doesn’t interrupt. Danka constantly reminds Lena that she’s overweight and in the way: a burden in every sense. Lena doesn’t want to be defined by her size, but it seems she’s only free of it while dancing or having sex. All this changes when she meets Daan (Niels Gomperts). She spots him one night while she’s riding her moped and he’s running from the cops. Daan is handsome and apparently wealthy. He doesn’t mind Lena’s size. He might even be in love with her. He buys her expensive gifts and asks her to move in. Lena is happy to flee her miserable home life, but can she trust Daan?

Director Christopher Rompaey, exam­ines divides of class, gender and body type. The film begins and ends with close-ups of Lena’s face, which in the interim we’ve witnessed shift from its innocent, vaguely cheerful gaze to something alive with rage, disappointment, ecstasy and when things go really bad, responsibility. Levie’s performance, which at times is flat and unemotional, is quite hard to watch, but this is balanced out by superb cinematography, which allows the viewer to feel the raw emotions and gritty nature of the often troubling subject matter of the film.

U.S. Premiere was on January 7, 2011 at the Palm Spring International Film Festival
Country: Netherlands/ Belgium (2011), Dutch, Polish with English subtitles, runtime 119 minutes

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