The Next Reel • Season 11 • Series: Mads & Susanne • Open Hearts

Open Hearts

Series: Director:

We continue our eleventh season looking at films directed by women with a short series called Mads and Susanne. In this series, we’re looking at films directed by Susanne Bier starring Mads Mikkelsen, and we start with their 2002 collaboration, ‘Open Hearts.’

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“I didn’t mean for this to happen.”

The Dogme 95 movement started in 1995 with the first two films made under its manifesto released in 1998. By the time Susanne Bier made her film Elsker dig for evigt – or Open Hearts as it was released in English – it was the 28th film certified as a Dogme 95 film. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we look a Bier’s 2002 film Open Hearts.

What does Dogme 95 bring to Open Hearts?

Because Dogme 95 is a key component of this film, how it looks, and its production – and because it’s the first Dogme 95 film we’ve discussed on the show – we spend a bit of time looking at its foundation, its rules, and how this fits – including what rules Bier broke during production.

There’s a lot of heightened emotion throughout this film due to the nature of the story. We disagree a bit about the strength of the story. Is it just a soap opera about infidelity? Or does the inciting incident of the car accident connecting these two couples together make it something more? And does the fact that the story seems intent on having all of these characters do things we don’t like make them unlikeable, or does it make them more realistic? Either way, it’s a story dealing with a lot of complicated emotions that make for a great conversation.

Regardless of what we think of the story and its melodramatic nature, the performances are great. Mads Mikkelsen always excels, and he’s fantastic here. He and Bier clearly know how to tap into some heavy emotions in their working relationships. Paprika Steen may be our favorite, though, as his wife. Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Sonja Richter put a lot on the table in their roles as well. All in all, it’s clear this is an actor’s film.

But it’s hard to completely get past that Dogme 95 look, which does leave the film feeling muddy. In today’s modern digital world where digital looks as good as film, it’s tough to go back to a film like this and want to sit through the home video look.

Still, it’s a film that warrants a lot of discussion, and we cover a lot of ground with it. so check it out then tune in. The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!

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