Movie: For years I've visited local theatre's that show so-called, "art house" films. I've done this in part to see what else exists beyond the mainstream corporate fodder that most of us are familiar with. From time to time I stumble across a gem while most of the time I sit through films that are arguably enough to induce sleep or worse. Not all of them are "bad" movies but they are certainly limited in terms of their target audience. Such is the case with a low budget Danish movie, Kira's Reason: A Love Story.
The movie centered on a woman in her 30's that had just been released from a psychiatric hospital after an extended stay. Her husband, Mads, wants her back and hopes she's cured but has his doubts. Their two small children share his hope but worry like kids are known to do (all over the world). While the movie never defines her disease specifically, she displays the ups and downs of a manic-depressive (bi-polar disorders are very treatable by modern chemistry) with all the insecurities you'd expect from someone whose grasp on reality is tentative. How Kira deals with her return to life forms the basis of the movie.
Kira comes from an upper middle class family in Denmark so you know she's had access to decent care. Mads and the kids are shown to love her in a number of ways, some of them subtle and others more open but they also seem hesitant to believe she's all better. After she runs off the nanny, for fear of her wanting Mads, and a welcome home party that seems warm on the surface but less so when looked at more closely, we are led to think that Kira's one step away from a return visit. As the movie progressed, other situations occur that she is unable to deal with in a normal fashion, including a meeting with her estranged father that propels the movie to a formulaic ending.
Okay, the movie deals with depression and mental illness in a way that didn't really invoke a lot of sympathy for the main characters. It may have been refreshing for some that each turned to another for comfort but it left me cold. Had the director left that aspect a bit more open-ended, it would've allowed the viewer to place their own sensibilities into the story rather than see both the leads as emotionally deprived and shallow. In fact, Mads is more to fault in this regard since he can't claim a sanctioned illness as the reason. To sum it up, the movie makes the viewer depressed.
The acting was decent enough by the cast, the direction was pretty good for this type of film, but the screenplay seemed to be far too limited (and it was co-written by the director) in where the characters could go without turning them into two-dimensional stereotypes. The worst part for me was the ending, which was so pat as to make the rest of the movie meaningless for me. On the up side, the movie did, for the most part, treat the issue in a realistic manner with some sensitivity. If you're looking for a movie that deals with this issue, you'll be hard-pressed to find one more accurate in terms of the ravages of mental illness and it's effect on those around the affected person. A caveat for would-be viewers is to disregard the critic quotes on the dvd case since the movie was not "Sexually charged, ferocious!", "A haunting knockout!", or "Intensely engaging!" I'm rating this one as a Rent It for those who enjoy an obscure movie but most people will see it as dreary and a downer.
Picture: The picture was presented in 1.33:1 ratio full frame color. There were a number of flaws with it that are typical in low budget, foreign movies, including colors that weren't accurate, a softer than average focus, grain, and minor artifacts. None of them were bad enough to suggest genre fans avoid it but neither was the picture anything to attract marginal viewers.
Sound: The sound was presented in stereo Danish with English subtitles. There wasn't a lot of separation between the channels and the vocals weren't crystal clear but it was about average for a low budget foreign film.
Extras: trailers, director biography, photogallery and paper dvd catalog for First Run Features
Final Thoughts: This was definitely a movie directed towards women fans of foreign movies. There wasn't a lot for me to really like with this one and I'd have suggested it as a skip it except that the acting was so solid. This is for genre fans only though so keep that in mind when thinking about getting it.