Guest post by Claire Brosman
Bio: Exploring how to build my life with my hands -- from my clothing to my soap and everything in between (while remaining socially acceptable).
Dennis is a teddy bear. A hulking, tattooed, body builder of a teddy bear. He kowtows to his diminutive mother; he’s a 38-year-old who lives at home and a man who has long been too timid to find love. But this Danish film, written and directed by Mads Matthiesen and winner of the 2012 Sundance World Cinema Directing award, is not soft like Dennis. It is a film of juxtapositions highlighting how perverted and sad the world can be, particularly as seen through the eyes of a tender-hearted man.
I’m a perpetual supporter of the underdog. I wish love for those who don’t have it, strength for those too weak to raise their voice and boldness for those whose only answers lie in a life-changing adventure. But when Dennis’ search for a companion takes the film to the sex tourist culture of Thailand, the sex trade is seen for what it is and I shifted uneasily in my seat. Suddenly it felt like our hulking hero might embrace the seedier side of the world and with each choice he made, I questioned and waited. The movie has a story to tell, but it’s in no hurry to be told.
Although the pace of this film is slow and steady, it creates the stressful intensity of a different type of film. My heart usually races with deadly weapons or racing cars, but it turns out that this time it only took a gentle man exposed to some realities in the world.
The film unravels scene by scene, often showing more than telling. Teddy Bear is shot in a way that magnifies Dennis’ struggles. You feel the weight of his insecurity in camera shots where his size is in sharp contrast with those around him. Tiny women, tiny men -they all look weak in comparison, but nearly always seem to control him.
But ultimately the world isn’t all bad. It never is. In the same way this film makes you experience Dennis’ insecurities, you also experience his comforts. I’m the first to admit I get squeamish in the magazine aisle upon looking at the covers of bodybuilding magazines featuring greased up, veiny men with contorted bodies, but somehow all I found was peace when Dennis was at the gym, lifting weights, flexing muscles, rehearsing poses and always smiling back at the tattooed teddy bear in the mirror.
Mads Matthiesen 2012
Categories: World Cinema Features
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The 9th annual Indianapolis International Film Festival features more than 100 films in 10 days. July 19-29 at IMA and Earth House. See the entire 2012 line up!