Ole Bornedal’s “Just Another Love Story” (Kaerlighed pa film) made its U.S. debut at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, screening in the World Dramatic Competition. Almost exactly a year later, the film is finding a limited release this Friday, January 9th. The film follows Jonas (Anders W. Berthelsen), a man with a wife and two kids who lives in the suburbs, and whose life takes an unexpected twist when he accidentally crashes into a woman’s car, subsequently putting into her a coma. When she awakes, her memory is lost, and Jonas decides to play her exotic new boyfriend.
Please tell us about yourself…
Creating non-existent worlds. Grew up in a small industrial town in the province in Denmark, surrounded by three large industrial plants: the blood factory – which manufactured a blood substance from slaughtered pigs; the cement factory; and the acid-factory. Depending on from which side the wind blew that day, my environment was either significantly invaded by the smell of acid, the smell of dusty cement or the smell of blood. I reckoned, when I was twelve, watching Capra, Ford, Bergman, Fellini, Hitchcock and all the other greats, that films were amazing. The world was endless and much bigger than that – and without the smell.
How did the idea for “Just Another Love Story” come about?
I invented the title – liked it – I saw a poster in my mind: the close-up of a tormented sweaty, bloody man looking straight at us. The poster and the title: “Just Another Love Story” – I liked that. THEN I started writing the screenplay.
Please elaborate a bit on your approach to making the film…
I guess my protagonist is just suffering from a lack of courage to really speak up and tell his wonderful wife what he really misses in this life. Perhaps he is not even able to tell himself what it is. Many marriages could have been saved if honest communication was a part of the daily routine. But I guess a lot of us are really afraid of taking the chance. Instead we carry secrets – carry them straight into loneliness. i wanted to make a suspenseful thriller about that. Provocative, poetic and brutal.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in either developing the project?
The screenplay. The film is an intrigue about human darkness. One should never make intrigues or stories about that – look what happend to Dostoyevski…. Dark intrigues are full of two-faced characters and full of lies and misunderstandings. It’s much too complicated to write that. It’s much better AND healthier to make an Adam Sandler film. It makes everybody much happier and doesn’t hurt anybody: especially not the writer.
How did the financing for the film come together?
The government gave me money. The Danish television was generous. I paid some myself, then we called some actors on the phone – then we did it.
What are some of the creative influences that have had the biggest impact on you?
Bergman and Italian neo-realism and John Ford, Coppola, Polanski, Bunuel, Spielberg, Tarkovsky and Dirty Harry.
What other genres or stories would like to explore as a filmmaker?
Everything. Genre is just the box in which you carry your story. Once you open it – you don’t care about the box anymore.
What is your next project?
A dark comedy; a Japanese thriller; an American musical; a British road movie and the corporate movie for LEGO.
What is your definition of “independent film,” and has that changed at all since you first started working?
I have no definition – i guess all I have done so far was pretty independent. But I don’t need to be independent. Actually I would like to be much more dependent.
What are some of your all-time favorite films, and why?
I seriously consider the Coen-brothers to be the most significant filmmakers today. But my mix is weird – I admire Coppola as I admire Polanski or Bergman or Ford. They master their actors and the camera to the extreme. I remember standing together with Del Toro, Rodriquez and Tarantino in a photo session for Miramax some years ago. The three guys were discussing Mexican B-movies from the fifties. They know of course ALL about that – being the cineastic hyper-professional B-maniacs they are. I didn’t know what they were talking about and mentioned that I was just the stupid European guy having watched Italian neorealism, Fellini and Bergman all my life. They looked at me as if I was crazy.
What are your interests outside of film?
Bringing up my kids.
What general advice would you impart to emerging filmmakers?
Keep working. Work hard and never be satisfied.
Please share an achievement from your career so far that you are most proud of.
My first radio feature. I met all my school friends from public school – many years later. Most of them had been in jail. We drank alcohol for a week and my microphone was on the whole time. We ended up at a nearby beach and my drunk old friends starting harassing the bypassers. It was a beautiful scene – the sound from the waves of the sea mixing with the drunk rough voices. I was so proud.