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Open Hearts

Open Hearts (2002)

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Made in accordance with the Dogme95 “vow of chastity,” which radically restricts filmmakers from gussying up their features with music, special effects, and other artificialities, Open Hearts (2002) is a sublimely effective melodrama, related in a bare, stripped-down manner. Directed by Susanne Bier, the film stars Mads Mikkelsen as Niels, a married man who becomes drawn to a girl (Sonja Richter) whose lover is paralyzed. The girl doesn’t realize that the man’s wife (Paprika Steen) was behind the wheel of the car that crippled her boyfriend, but it doesn’t stop her from diving into a steamy affair with the consoling, older Niels. Fortunately the Dogme95 “vow of chastity” doesn’t apply to sex, because Bier isn’t shy about capturing her characters in carnal embrace. Richter lights up the screen as the lonely youngster who decides to boff away her troubles instead of facing them head-on.