The Bench | Chicago Reader

The Bench

Fleeing her violent husband, a beautiful woman and her young son find temporary lodging with a loony grad student who's obsessed with Kierkegaard and whose neighbor, an alcoholic day laborer, destroys plants during a gardening job because he doesn't like his client. When the woman turns down her host's sudden marriage proposal, he goes berserk, tossing her possessions out a window and leaving her with no option but to return home, where her husband beats her so severely that she winds up in a hospital. As a study of people about to come unhinged, this 2000 melodrama has its moments, and director Per Fly gets fine portrayals from his principals (Jesper Christensen is particularly disturbing as the gardener). But the compositions are sterile and the editing wooden: in a key scene, when the wife learns that the gardener is her long-lost father, Fly's intercutting of her face and a box of her letters is awkward and unconvincing. In Danish with subtitles. 93 min.

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