Open Hearts | Chicago Reader

Open Hearts

“Tragedy is not an integral part of modern life the way it was in other eras,” says Danish director Susanne Bier, and in her wrenching 2002 drama the characters' inability to accept suffering—their own or other people's—leads to even greater heartache. A mother of three (Paprika Steen) hits a young man (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) with her car, leaving him a quadriplegic consumed by rage and self-pity. After he rejects his fiancee (Sonja Richter), the young woman rebounds into the arms of a compassionate doctor (Mads Mikkelsen) who turns out to be the driver's husband. Bier and screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen (Mifune) have a precise sense of character, and they're aided by a fine cast—especially Steen as the guilt-stricken driver, who urges her husband to counsel the young woman and then sees her family torn apart by his infidelity. In Danish with subtitles. R, 114 min.

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