Picks and Pans Review: Twist and Shout
Denmark, 1964. The height of Beatlemania. A teenage rock 'n' roller named Bjorn (Adam Tonsberg) spies a beautiful girl named Anna (Camilla Soeberg) across a crowded dance hall. Love at first sight. Erik (Lars Simonsen), Bjorn's best friend, is preoccupied with his mentally ill mother, puritanical father and his own infatuation with a local debutante named Kirsten (Ulrikke Juul Bondo). Kirsten likes Bjorn. Bjorn gets Anna pregnant and must pay for an abortion. Bjorn and Erik grow up. On paper, the plot seems impossibly trite. Danish director Bille August and some powerful young actors have, however, made this a most affecting coming-of-age film, one that was chosen Best Picture at the 1985 European Film Festival. For one thing, August paid extraordinary attention to detail. Half-smiles, tiny gestures and quick glances enrich each scene as we follow Tonsberg, completely consumed by his first love. "Sometimes I miss you even though we're together," he tells Soeberg, a softer-featured Amy Irving whose acting, especially during a harrowing abortion scene, is captivating. August balances the film's hard edge with an eye for human, humorous foibles. When Soeberg must leave him for three days, for instance, Tonsberg's imagination—as seen through August's camera—races with scenes in which she is slobbered over by practically every sailor in Denmark. Jan Weincke's photography, which includes idyllic Danish holiday scenes that look like Christmas cards come to life, is icing. It may sound familiar, but Twist and Shout is worth reliving. (R, with subtitles)
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