I’ve been writing a lot about Danish film and its about time to post a picture of the man responsible for so much of it, and the man who is one of the finest, if not the finest screenwriter working today in any language; Anders Thomas Jensen.
But I laud him most as a screenwriter. His characters are rounded beyond what we normally expect when we hear that term, and the twists in the films are not the usual trendy plot twists, though there are plenty of those, but genre twists. And these twists spring less from introducing bizarre elements but from introducing very human elements into the typically abnormal structure of film narrative.
For instance take Open Hearts.
The basic story is simply an affair; a married man in a loving relationship and close to his children becomes involved with a woman whose fiance his wife has hurt badly in a traffic accident. What sets this apart is that not only is the suspicious party his teen-aged daughter but that there are no villains of the usual sort in the story. I won’t give away the story except that everyone seems to understand what is going on even though it is painful. There is no feel good ending but there is an ending, and all in all, it celebrates the diversity of human interaction.
It doesn’t hurt that he has the cream of Danish acting to draw on. Once again he is working with Mads Mikkelson, Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Paprika Steen. These actors and this writer are an unbeatable combination and once again convince me that Danish cinema is among the most accomplished on the planet. (And then consider Lars Von Trier, and Scandinavian cinema in general.)
Other Jensen filmed scripts worth tracking down are After the Wedding, Old Men in New Cars, and In China They Eat Dogs. Unpredictable is bandied about a lot these days but few people actually live up to it in the same respect as this man.