Danish film-maker Jeanette Nordahl has served her time as a second-unit director on TV’s Borgen. Now, presenting her debut feature at Berlin, she gives us an insidiously horrible and thrilling Scandi noir of her own – written by Ingeborg Topsøe. It exerts a nasty grip (the original Danish title is Kød & Blod, or flesh and blood).
After her addict mum accidentally kills herself in a car accident, the impassive 17-year-old Ida (a cracking performance from Sandra Guldberg Kampp) is told by stressed social services that she will have to move in with her aunt and her family.
Her aunt is the cheerful, glamorous divorcee Bodil (Sidse Babett Knudsen) who lives in a handsome house with her youngest son Mads (Besir Zeciri): he does nothing all day except play video games and smoke dope. Her other son Jonas (Joachim Fjelstrup) often comes around with his partner and new baby, though Bodil has a trickier relationship with her other grownup son David (Elliott Crosset Hove) who disappears for long periods of time.
At first, they are all very welcoming to poor Ida, who believes that their business is the large nightclub that Bodil appears to manage. But Bodil is the matriarch of a ruthless crime family whose main income is from acting as loan sharks. Ida quickly shows them that she too has a criminal vocation, taking like a duck to water to her new task. Jonas and David threaten debtors who are behind on their payment by picking their kids up from school and offering them a lift home – the presence of Ida in the backseat reassures these children who obediently climb into the car.
There is something very disturbing about Ida’s on-screen presence and Kampp’s performance. At first, she says and does very little – clearly, the poor girl is grieving and traumatised by years of living with an addict. But then, her quiet self-possession appears to mean something else. When did she grasp the truth about her new family? When did she decide to go along with it? Or did she, in fact, decide any such thing? Is it all just post-traumatic stress disorder or Stockholm syndrome, or is manipulative crime Ida’s personal destiny? She is clearly lonely and unhappy and there are things about Ida that Bodil and the boys don’t have a clue about. But she is prepared to go the extra mile for them when things go terribly wrong. This has the makings of a big hit.
Source: The Guardian