Just Another Love Story ***
Directed by Ole Bornedal
Written by Ole Bornedal
Anders W. Berthelsen as Jonas
Rebecka Hernse as Julia
Nikolaj Lie Kaas as Sebastian
Charlotte Fich as Mette
Dejan Cukic as Frank
Every now and then I read a review for a thriller that likes the phrase "in the tradition of Hitchock." I have never wrote these five words before, for any thriller no matter how good, but "Just Another Love Story" comes close. It captures the sexual frustrations, the mistaken identities, and the destruction of a man at the hands of a woman, all common themes that Hitchcock played with so well. And it also involves an intriguing mystery, cleverly written and directed by Ole Bornedal, who aside from a few plot holes and obvious script devices, really did craft an engrossing and engaging thriller, one whose title could be the most misleading part about the entire thing.
I do not recommend reading this paragraph as it does reveal the plot to the film, which I knew literally nothing about when I walked into the theater. This is the kind of film that works if one allows it to let it simply unfold before them. Starting with three scenes, noted "Love Scene 1," "2," and "3," these are the stepping stones and early clues for the story that is coming. We are introduced to Jonas, who has been married for many years. After sex with his wife Mette he tries to calculate how many times they have done it together. It's a number very high. Everything changes when they get into a car accident-Jonas and his family are, but another man is dead and another girl goes into a coma. This is Julia, who Jonas cannot get out of his mind thinking that it is his fault. He goes to visit her in the hospital, telling her family that he is her boyfriend-a man named Sebastian that they have never met, but heard a lot about. Jonas does not tell them their mistake, and when Julia wakes up almost blind and with a foggy memory she embraces her savior Jonas, and develops a relationship with him. Julia soon becomes pregnant, and Jonas begins a secret life with her, and all is blissful for him until Sebastian, long thought dead, shows up at the door.
Aside from the extensive plot holes abundant throughout the film, my only other flaw with "Just Another Love Story" is the highly aware style from director/writer Ole Bornedal, including some jump cuts and fast motion, which ruin some of the more tense scenes throughout. All the performances are quite good, especially Nikolaj Lie Kaas as Sebastian, who I recognized from the 2005 film "Brothers." He brings a comic element to his very shady and seedy character, one of the many ironically funny things about the film. It is a film that is just so entertaining to watch, and a very easy one to get absorbed in.
As simple entertainment, "Just Another Love Story" does work, but to look deeper into these character only elevates the material even higher. Jonas is a man stuck in a routine-his descriptions of his home seems tired and worn as he makes a casual reference to the smell of dried paint. Of course he becomes intrigued by the concept of a new woman. Anders W. Berthelsen plays the part with a terrific balance of one feeling disgust towards him and one even feeling sympathy. It's a sick act, yes, but easy to understand. As for Julia, her vulnerability seems to stem from before she is introduced, and scenes about her past only highlight her ability to really trust everyone around her. Along with the stark visuals and Ole Bornedal's ability to keep the suspense, "Just Another Love Story' really does become something that Hitchcock may have been proud of-a thriller that is most entertainment, with a somewhat sick love element that borders on the edge of insanity and understanding. Jonas and Julia end up being exactly what the others need, just like every other love story.