Notions of Dogme 95's decline may have to be readjusted: made according to the movement's strict manifesto (natural lighting, no props or make-up), Susanne Bier's Open Hearts explores the unpredictability of human lives and emotions.
Twentysomething Copenhagen couple Joachim and Cecilie (Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Sonja Richter) are planning to get married. Then tragedy strikes: Joachim is hit by a car, leaving him paralysed from the neck down. The driver (Paprika Steen) asks her doctor husband (Mads Mikkelsen) to talk to the victim's distressed fiancée, and soon (what a surprise) the good doctor and Cecilie are finding it hard to conceal their feelings for one another...
Benefiting from handheld camerawork that gives the drama a sense of authenticity, Open Hearts is refreshing and clear-eyed. Bier refuses to judge her characters and resists the temptation to venerate the status of the film's nuclear family. Instead, strong ensemble performances ensure that we understand the characters' motivations - - good and bad. Here, as in life, there are no black and whites, only greys.