Thursday, January 15, 2009

Screen Alert - Just Another Love Story (written/directed by Ole Bornedal)

Jonas is out on a drive with his wife and family when his car breaks down in the middle of the road, sending the swerving car behind him into an oncoming traffic and its driver, Julia, into a coma. This is where the love story ('bizarre' doesn't even begin to describe it) begins in Just Another Love Story by Danish writer/director Ole Bornedal (Nightwatch).

Just Another Love Story is anything but.

Feeling partly responsible for her accident, Jonas goes to visit her in the hospital. Forced to fib in order to see the girl, Julia's family mistakes him for the boyfriend she met abroad. Unable to find an easy out of this white lie, Jonas plays along and pretends to be the absent lover. The role-playing stops, however, when the now-blind Julia wakes up with amnesia and the two fall in love.

This is where the film absolutely excels - as an offbeat and disturbing love story. The relationship between Jonas and the handicapped Julia is oddly endearing, and you can't help but want to see the two of them come together - while at the same time you're disgusted by the way he's betraying his loving family. The characters are deep and feel very real.

The movie starts to stumble when it strays away from the titular love story; the film takes lots of twists and turns when Julia's checkered past bubbles to the surface, throwing everything from murder, diamond smuggling, and abusive boyfriends to a masked mystery man and the South Asian mafia into the mix. A lot of this (read: most of this) works well, and when it does the movie is a very cool, edgy thriller. By the end of the film, though, it starts to feel a little too twisty - the final scene in particular (hinted at in the somewhat misleading U.S. poster) feels unnecessary and tacked-on, but it's easily forgotten because everything preceding it was so solid.

While the mystery aspect didn't click with me as much as the incredibly engrossing though off-kilter romance, Just Another Love Story is a great movie that comes highly recommended.

**** out of *****.

Just Another Love Story is currently playing in Manhattan at Cinema Village.

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