Dir: Frederikke Aspock. Denmark. 2011. 72mins
The impressively made Out Of Bounds (titled Labrador locally) marks director Frederikke Aspöck out a talent to keep an eye on. It may well be a subtle and compact drama, set against the stunningly desolate backdrop of a windswept island, but she has sound control and crafted a film rich in atmosphere.
The tough gloominess of the story is impressively reflected in the impressively shot visuals.
She won the Premier Prix de la Cinéfondation at Cannes with the short Happy Now (2004), and her new project marks an easy transition into features and benefits from the smart casting of rising talent Stephanie Leon alongside established Scandinavian actors Jakob Eklund and Carsten Bjørnlund.
The film features just three characters and uses their intense psychological drama - juxtaposed with the bleak landscape - to craft a tense chamber piece the deal with emotional conflict and family traumas.
Young Danish couple Stella (Leon) and her journalist boyfriend Oskar (Bjørnlund) visit her artist father Nathan (Eklund), who lives a solitary life alone with his Labrador dog on the remote Swedish island of Gotland. Stella is pregnant and looking forward to the birth of her baby, but Oskar appears to have doubts, and succumbs to Nathan’s provocations and feels bewildered by the relationship between father and daughter. A clash between the two men is inevitable with Stella caught in the middle.
The basic structure is all pretty straightforward, but the strong performances help bring out the best from Daniel Dencik’s economical and subtle script as the much-used plot device of troubled family histories is mined to good effect.
The tough gloominess of the story is impressively reflected in the impressively shot visuals, with cinematographer Magnus Nordenhof Jonck making great use of the stark island locations. In truth the film is a suitably streamlined and simple dramatic film - running just over 70 minutes - that makes no attempt to be pretentious or overly directed. It is a sombre melodrama impressively put together…and all the better for it.
Production companies: Greta Film AB, Nordisk Film
International sales: TrustNordisk, www.trustnordisk.com
Producer: Thomas Heinesen
Screenplay: Daniel Dencik
Cinematography: Magnus Nordenhof Jonck
Production designer: Thomas Karlsen
Editor: Martin Schade
Music: Rasmus Bille Bahncke
Main cast: Carsten Bjørnlund, Stephanie Leon, Jakob Eklund