Kira’s Reason: A Love Story (review)

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Freed from the artifices and tricks of filmmaking, the Danish directors following the Dogme doctrine — whose rules, among other things, require the use of only natural lighting and sound and forbid the importation of props to shoots, which must be done on location — have created a new kind of spare, theatrical, intensely fervent storytelling. This, Ole Christian Madsen’s second film, is a stunning example, a sometimes painfully intimate peek at a crumbling marriage. When Kira (Stine Stengade) returns to home after a hospital stay — the cause of the nervous breakdown from which she is still recovering is not immediately clear — she finds the pieces of her once comfortable life difficult to pick up: Her young sons have become skittish in Mom’s absence, but more desperately, her husband, Mads (Lars Mikkelsen), may have slipped too far away from her. Infidelity, rage, passion, fear — all are in the mix of their torturous attempts to rebuild their relationship. Stengade’s bold, fearless performance is shockingly honest; Mikkelsen’s, less demandingly showy, is a wonder of understatement and quiet, potent restraint. Together, they create characters deeply entangled with each other and so palpably real that you can turn the subtitles off and not lose the sense of who they are, as a couple and as individuals. As with many films shot on digital video, the DVD transfer is as crisp as can be.

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