Copenhagen is the feature directorial debut of Canadian filmmaker Mark Raso.
It was impossible for me to not be reminded of the Woody Allen’s city romances (Rome, Midnight in Paris) because he has mastered the art of making the city his protagonist. Raso shows Copenhagen and its northern European character by having the characters bike around the city with the cityscape in the background. Ultimately, he wants the beauty of Copenhagen to compliment the intriguing story.
The story essentially is of William (played by Game of Thrones actor Gethin Anthony aka Renly Baratheon) who is looking for his grandfather, so that he can deliver a letter written in Danish by his father almost four decades ago. That’s his only clue to finding what’s in the letter and perhaps meet his only living grandparent. His best friend and travel buddy Jeremy (Sebastian Armesto) eventually drops William to run off with William’s on-again, off=again girlfriend leaving him completely bitter and frustrated. William constantly calls Jeremy because he is lost in the aloneness of this foreign city and not knowing where to go.
Raso draws on the aimless existence most of us have lived through in our growing up years. To add to that, William is not the most pleasant people to be around and it’s only when he meets a local girl Effy (played brilliantly by Frederikke Dahl Hansen) that his annoying behavior starts to become charming.
The film is interesting as it places random people into each other’s lives. Effy decides to help Will look for his grandfather, so that he can deliver him the letter. This sets them off on this path of discovering the city themselves. Effy comes in and casually stirs up William’s entire world. She is exuberant, beautiful, smart and not instantly taken by his charms. She is also his rock as William confronts bits of his family history through the film, from his father being called a Danish Nazi by an old friend, to finding an inscription of his father’s name in an old house.
But, with the eventual revelation that Effy is only fourteen years old, the steadily evolving romantic dynamic goes for a toss. Confronted with the fact that the girl he is beginning to really like is half his age and actually a minor, Will if forced to think that it is time to grow up. Effy is the one who challenges the status quo that Will’s life is. He is this womanizer, who lusts after everything he sets his eyes on.
Raso’s take on the coming of age narrative though not totally refreshing, is intriguing because of his choice of setting, the element of the age gap between the two protagonists and the casual pace of the film. Copenhagen is a visual delight and true to its biking culture. It’s surely worth a dekko on a snowy December day.
Copenhagen is out now.