Film Review: You Disappear | Du forsvinder (2017).

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ – 3/5.

Author: Sofia Murell | Runtime: 117 min. | Director: Peter Schønau Fog | Year: 2017.

You Disappear started by captivating me with a shocking scene and then it moved on to confuse me and amuse me. This film brings to the table issues of mental health on a sober and persuasive manner, and asks: Is free will really free? Where does free will start and stop?

Frederik (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) is a school director who is diagnosed with a brain tumor that causes changes in his behavior. After this discovery, he is accused stealing from the school. Mia (Trine Dyrholm) – Frederik’s wife – believes that his actions were induced by the tumor and should not be penalized, but that is up to the judges to decide. Mia contacts Bernard Berman (Michael Nyqvist) – the only lawyer she knows from her support group – in the hope that he can help Frederik. However, throughout the lawsuit Mia starts to question Frederik’s behavior: Was he already like that or is the illness speaking?

You Disappear – directed by Peter Schønau Fog (The Art of Crying, 2006) – is based on the bestselling novel of the same name written by Christian Jungersen. The film has been selected as the Danish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards. It was also screened at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival’s Special Presentation section.

The film touches delicate questions on mental health problems, marriage, fidelity and the boundaries of free will, which could not have been done in such a fascinating way without the great performances of Trine Dyrholm (The Commune, 2016) and Nikolaj Lie Kaas (The Idiots, 1998; Angels & Demons, 2009).

Trine’s role as Mia is delightful. Her character is genuinely complex but at the same time, Mia appears simple and gentle. Mia’s realization that maybe her husband is not the same as before takes us into her process of awareness. This results in her gradual character transformation and sexual awakening. Her moments of happiness and doubt are emphasized by the use of flashbacks which twist the story and manipulate our line of thought. One minute you pity Mia, the other you start doubting her intentions, as she seems more controlling of Frederik. The dialogues are clear and enlighten us with explanations of philosophical and physical understanding of what free will is. This explanation and the representation of what a mental health problem can do to a family and an individual let us rethink about how we view people with mental illnesses and the effects of such.

You Disappear questions big problems through individual stories with the support of a remarkable cast and a brilliant storytelling. Don’t expect something overdramatic but a smart and sober film of great quality.

In Dutch theatres as from the 5th of October 2017.

Genre: Drama | Language: Danish | Dutch Distributor: Cherry Pickers Filmdistributie.

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