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Henrik Ruben Genz's Simmering Terribly Happy

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Terribly Happy
Directed by Henrik Ruben Genz
Oscilloscope Laboratories
Opens February 5

After waving a gun around at home, young Copenhagen cop Robert Hansen (Jakob Cedergren) is shipped to the South Jutland flatlands to cool off as marshal of a small town. Surprising no one who has watched such a migration onscreen before, he finds amused villagers with a highly developed talent for collusion and a tendency to get overly familiar with their new impartial authority. Within minutes, a married woman, Ingerlise, with a concussed Rita Rudner affect, sidles into his office and delivers a spiel that's part blowsy flirtation and part ambiguous report of spousal abuse. If film noir latches on to lonely urban souls pulling each other down into doom, Henrik Ruben Genz's simmering stew sees a man who made one violent mistake get ruined anew by genially corrupt yokels. The paunchy cowboy-hatted wife beater, Jørgen, has the run of the place, dark deeds unfold on the marshy outskirts, and everyone's OK with it. Hansen peers out cautiously from his innocent, stubble-dusted face as if afraid of being found out; a pill-dispensing sawbones neighbor is utterly unsurprised by Hansen's boredom-born attraction to Ingerlise and his clumsy nosiness. Cedergren is a little too bland, but that works with Hansen's air of haplessness and sets him apart from the colorful locals. His self-inflicted reckoning is a horizon visible throughout the movie, and the bog outside of town is a thudding but effective metaphor of willful repression. That quagmire, where incriminating items (like cars and bodies) may be secretly dumped, poses the double-edged-sword solution to Hansen's despair over the past: Just forget about it.

 
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