Danish film by acclaimed director, musician and song-writer Søren Kragh-Jacobsen, The Hour of the Lynx bears his signature. This dark and complex drama centers on teenager Drengen (Frederik Christian Johansen), who for no apparent reason savagely kills two seniors and stages their corpses in a perverse, yet aesthetically tender way.
Institutionalized in a high-security facility, and following a suicide attempt which he says was instructed by God, his psychiatrist Lisbeth (Signe Egholm Olsen) seeks the help of female priest Helen (Sophie Gråbøl). What follows is an incredible story of cruelty, apathy, love and faith.
Entering Drengen’s disturbed mind is as dangerous as you would think. And yet, as Lisbeth and Helen attempt to understand him before he manages to kill himself, both of their characters are brought to light. The two women learn the incredible, indisputable and perturbing power of childhood traumas and loves. Perhaps most importantly, their interaction with Drengen reveals aspects of their character which the audience might not have suspected.
The use of flashbacks in The Hour of the Lynx, thought at first somewhat jarring, are like the ribbons that hold the narrative together. As the ropes of his past untangle, what is left are pieces of a complex and touching childhood circumstance. Adapted from an award-winning stage play by Per Olov Enquist, the film’s atmosphere is intense and fragile. I especially liked the winter frames. Winter is death. Winter is redemption.
Started by Thomas Vinterberg and Lars von Trier, Kragh-Jacobsen was one of the Danish Directors that joined the avant-garde film making movement known as Dogme 95. In their Manifesto, also known as the “Vow of Chastity,” they prioritized the traditional story, acting and theme, and rejected elaborate special effects or technology. The point was to put the power back in the hands of the directors, writers and actors, and out of the hands of the industry. The Dogme 95 philosophy, with its focus on natural light and great acting is obvious here, as in a number of other films featured at this year’s festival. It is a welcome departure from the traditional Hollywood conventions.
Check out the trailer:
In Finnish and Danish, subtitled in English, the movie premieres on Friday, Feb 13 at 9 p.m. at the Carleton University River Building. Tickets are available online, or at the door (cash only). $13 general admission; $9 students, members and seniors. This film is part of the Baltic-Nordic Film Festival brought to you by The Canadian Film Institute.