Tag Archives: Anders Danielsen Lie

Handle With Care

Handling the Undead

by George Wolf

With his source novel and screenplay for Let the Right One In, John Ajvide Lindqvist mixed vampire bloodlust and emotional bonds. Handling the Undead (Håndtering av udøde) finds Lindqyist turning similar attention to zombies, teaming with director/co-writer Thea Hvistendahl for a deeply atmospheric tale of grief, longing, and dread-filled reunions.

We follow three families in Norway, each one dealing with tragedy. An old man and his daughter (Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World) have lost their young son/grandson; an elderly woman still grieves for her lifelong partner; while a man (Anders Danielsen Lie from The Worst Person in the World and Personal Shopper) and his children struggle to accept that the wife and mother they depend on (Bahar Pars) may now be gone.

Hvistendahl sets the stakes with minimal dialog and maximum sorrow. Characters move through sweaty summer days in a fog of grief that’s expertly defined by cinematographer Pål Ulvik Rokseth. They grasp at memories and battle regret over feelings left unexpressed.

And then an unexplained electro-magnetic event hits Oslo…and the dead aren’t so dead anymore.

In the film’s first two acts, Hvistendahl unveils these awakenings with a barren and foreboding tenderness. Everyone knows this can’t end well, but the tears of joy that come from seemingly answered prayers create moments that straddle a fascinating line between touching and horrifying.

How much of our grief is defined by selfishness? And how far could it push us before we finally let go?

Those may not be new themes for the zombie landscape, but the way Hvistendahl frames the inevitable bloodshed goes a long way toward making her shift of focus less jarring. While so much time is spent exploring the pain of those left behind, we know that eventually zombies gonna zombie.

And indeed they do, but Hvistendahl sidesteps excess carnage for a more subtle form of gruesome. The interactions between the living and the undead take on a surreal, experimental quality that seems plenty curious about whether we’d really think dead is better.

After all, the grieving family in Pet Sematary went asking for trouble. Here, the trouble comes calling, and Handling the Undead answers with a bleak but compelling study of desperation meeting inhuman connection.

Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon

The Worst Person in the World

by George Wolf

The older you get, four years can pass in what seems like a whirlwind weekend. But to a twentysomething like Julie (Renate Reinsve), that same slice of life can end up being monumental in shaping the course of her life.

For The Worst Person in the World (Verdens verste menneske), Norwegian writer/director Joachim Trier uses understated insight and a revelatory performance from Reinsve to effectively fuse coming-of-age sensibilities with romantic drama. 

In that pivotal 4-year time span, we see Julie move through multiple career choices and two long-term relationships. Despite a 15 year age gap with established comic book artist Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie), Julie moves in with him while adamantly proclaiming she doesn’t want children.

As the relationship begins to grow stale, Julie’s head is turned by the younger, more impulsive Eivind (Herbert Nordrum), who is also in a committed relationship.

Choices will be made and harsh realities will be dealt, all in a poignant, surprisingly funny and quietly engrossing package that strikes a fine balance between finding romance and finding yourself.

Even when Julie is at her most selfish, naive or indecisive, Reinsve makes sure she’s always sympathetic and, above all, relatable. Her performance delivers a wonderfully layered reminder that most of us surely recognize this road Julie is traveling.

As one woman navigates what she wants in a career, in a relationship, and ultimately what she wants out of life, Trier and Reinsve craft small, indelible moments that bind together for a refreshingly honest look at how, as John Lennon once said, life happens when you’re busy making other plans.

Zombie Eat World

The Night Eats the World

by Hope Madden

People like to make lists. For some people, it’s a bucket list. Some like to keep track of the celebrities they are allowed to sleep with if the opportunity arises. Not me.

Years ago I put together my zombie survival team. And though I know plenty of people with varied and worthy skills, making my team mainly came down to two things. Are you smart? Are you quiet? Because it is the introverts of the world who will survive the zombie apocalypse.

Director Dominique Rocher’s unusually titled The Night Eats the World understands this.

Sam (Anders Danielsen Lie) reluctantly stops by his ex’s party to collect his things. It is a loud, raucous event and Sam is in no mood. He stands moping alone until finally he wanders into a quiet back office, locks the door to the partygoers and waits.

By morning, Sam may be the only living human left in Paris.

The majority of the film quietly follows Sam through the apartment building as he fortifies his position, spends his time, survives. It’s a pleasantly pragmatic approach to the zombie film, although it asks many of the same questions Romero asked in Dawn of the Dead.

In fact, TNETW sometimes bears an amazing resemblance to the underseen German zombie flick Rammbock: Berlin Undead. (It’s great. You should see it.)

There’s a lot going on here that’s fresh, though. Rarely is a zombie film this introspective or a horror hero this thoughtful. More than that, though, Rocher’s horror is a meditation on loneliness.

Not only is that an unusual topic for horror, it’s delivered with the kind of touching restraint that’s almost inconceivable in this genre.

Danielsen Lie, in what nearly amounts to a one-man-show, never lets you down and never feels showy. Sam is a man who is maybe too at home with the situation in a film that quietly asks, just what has to happen before a true introvert longs for human companionship?

That’s why they’ll outlast us. It’ll just be a few dozen socially uncomfortable loners skilled at closing themselves off from the chaos around them. Plus Keith Richards.