Dir. Natasha Arthy. Denmark. 2003. 90mins.
This new romantic comedy is the best proof that a Dogme tag does not necessarily indicate a film is a meaningful or even a challenging experience. Old, New, Borrowed And Blue's sitcom-type humour and occasional melodramatic touches will probably provide a safe niche on international matinee slots, where its sunny disposition and the lively performance of lead actress Sidse Babett Knudsen pull it through some awkward patches. But the uneven pace, which is often infected by the characters' own hesitancy, and sketchy use of plotting, may limit its appeal compared to other Dogme features. That said, lead Bjorn Kellman picked up the Best Actor Award at Karlovy Vary last week, while Trust Film Sales has secured sales on the film (which has also gone under other titles including The Dog's Called Fiat 128 and Another Swede) to around 15 territories, including Senator in Germany. At home, where it opened earlier this year, it gained a respectable 150,000 admissions.
Katrine (Knudsen) has a hard time telling her depressed sister, Mette (Andersen), hospitalised after her lover Thomsen (Kjellman) abandoned her and went to Africa, that she is about to marry her own boyfriend, Jonas (Byder) in a couple of days. She rehearses her lines in front of the mirror but never musters up the courage to speak them. Then Thomsen returns, ready to pick up the secret affair he enjoyed with Katrine that kick-started his departure.
Pretending to be nothing more than best friends, the pair embark on a wild day of their own. Early in the morning Katrine discovers that Thomsen is HIV-positive, but lacks the guts to let him know that she knows. Instead they go out, purchase an old dog from a hustler on the street, acquire new clothes for Thomsen to wear at her wedding, buy some hallucinogenic blue pills which they later consume together, get an African hairdo for Katrine. Later they plan to go to the clinic, find Mette and 'borrow' her for the wedding ceremony. It all completes the list of "something old and something new, something borrowed and something blue" that every bride needs before her marriage.
More incidents fill the gaps between these brief episodes, which are pretty slight and hardly enough to carry a full-length feature. Katrine's girlfriends discuss intimate secrets as they wait for her to come home. Unaware of the affair, Jonas and his friends indulge in adolescent pranks and are entertained by a stripper. Meanwhile Mette adds a soulful note to the proceedings as she gnaws her nails in hospital, waiting for her departed beau to call her.
The script never digs too deep, as Arthy loosely ties up moments of existential doubt with screwball scenes that are less hilarious than they pretend to be. The final result is neither light enough for a comedy, nor thoughtful enough to deal with characters who include a manic-depressive and someone diagnosed with HIV. But there are a number of pleasant gimmicks to enjoy, best of which is the introduction of composer Kaare Bjerko and his band, who Mette sees everywhere she looks; through the window, in the closet, behind every door.
Prod co: Nimbus Film
Den dist: Nordisk/Nimbus
Int'l sales: Trust Film Sales
Prod: Birgitte Hald, Birgitte Skov
Cinematography: Rasmus Videbaek
Ed: Kasper Leick
Music: Kaare Bjerko
Main cast: Sidse Babett Knudsen, Lotte Andersen, Bjorn Kjellman, Soren Byder, Martin Buch, Lene Maria Christensen, Kristian Halken, Ida Dwinger