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Angels In Fast Motion

Nice ensemble work lifts "Angels in Fast Motion," an otherwise unremarkable druggie pic that wears its influences rather too heavily to take flight. Less slavishly following Helmer Ole Christian Madsen still seems to be searching for his own style, here borrowing heavily from the flashy visuals of "Requiem for a Dream."

With:
With: Signe Egholm Olsen, Claus Riis Ostergaard, Thure Lindhardt, Thomas L. Corneliussen, Signe Vaupel, Pernille Vallentin Brandt, Farshad Khogli, Rudi Kohnke, Joakim Malling, Finn Storgaard, Maria Stenz, Kirsten Nordholdt, Sos Egelind, Lars Mikkelsen.

Nice ensemble work lifts “Angels in Fast Motion,” an otherwise unremarkable druggie pic that wears its influences rather too heavily to take flight. Less slavishly following Dogma rules than in his previous “Kira’s Reason — A Love Story,” helmer Ole Christian Madsen still seems to be searching for his own style, here borrowing heavily from the flashy visuals of “Requiem for a Dream.” Biggest problem is his inability to make anything original out of these junkies, who go through the pain of addiction in very familiar ways. Home biz was moderate, making play anywhere other than Scandi fests unlikely.

Elements of “Magnolia” can be traced in the way characters are introduced in sections and then gradually coalesce into a more complete narrative. Dealer Asger (Thomas L. Corneliussen) uses g.f. Maria (Signe Egholm Olsen), a self-described “pusher frau,” as a drug runner and general hostess to his cabal of junkies and fellow pushers.

Seaman Allan (Claus Riis Ostergaard) is back in town after a marine accident leaves one side of his face terribly scarred. A reformed addict, he is strong-armed into being the courier for a major drug shipment by his old pal Frank (Rudi Kohnke).

Third storyline follows Steso (Thure Lindhardt), a rail thin pseudo-philosopher with a massive monkey on his back whose addictive personality covers intellectual word riffs as much as heroin. When school sweetheart Tilde (Vallentin Brandt) leaves him, smack isn’t enough to keep him balanced.

Dependency is obviously the name of the game, not only on drugs but on the person closest at hand. But it’s all so old hat — closeups of dilated eyes, syringes in arms, etc., are simply boring, much like the lives of the junkies themselves.

There are, however, some good characterizations, and, despite the cliches, the largely unknown cast (all of whom were awarded the best supporting actor/actress award at Taormina) manages to milk sympathy out of otherwise tedious circumstances. Olsen in particular maintains a fragility that sets her apart.

Visuals are obviously key to Madsen’s work, and pic looks good. Frequent doggicam shots (reversed steadicams attached to the actors) are used to set the usually stoned characters apart from their surroundings, but they’re overdone and create more of a music vid feel than an effective tripping sequence.

Colors, alternating cool blues with oranges and reds, are well chosen, plus lighting is nicely considered. Music, especially the songs of Brimstone Butterfly, is nicely integrated throughout.

Angels In Fast Motion

Denmark

Production: A Nimbus Film production, in association with Danmarks Radio TV-Drama, Zentropa Entertainments5 . (International sales: Trust Film Sales, Hvidovre, Denmark.) Produced by Meta Louise Foldager, Morten Kaufmann. Executive producers, Bo Ehrhardt, Birgitte Hald. Directed by Ole Christian Madsen. Screenplay, Madsen, Bo hr. [cq] Hansen, based on the novel by Jakob Ejersbo.

Crew: Camera (color, Cinemascope), Jorgen Johansson; editor, Soren B. Ebbe; music, Fridthjof Toksvig; production designer, Jette Lehmann; costume designer, Helle Nielsen; sound (Dolby SR Digital), Hans Moller; casting, Rie Hedegaard. Reviewed at Taormina Film Festival (competing), June 13, 2005. Running time: 128 MIN.

With: With: Signe Egholm Olsen, Claus Riis Ostergaard, Thure Lindhardt, Thomas L. Corneliussen, Signe Vaupel, Pernille Vallentin Brandt, Farshad Khogli, Rudi Kohnke, Joakim Malling, Finn Storgaard, Maria Stenz, Kirsten Nordholdt, Sos Egelind, Lars Mikkelsen.

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