Some of Danish cinema's leading lights try to illuminate the murky dramatics of "Fear Me Not."

Some of Danish cinema’s leading lights try to illuminate the murky dramatics of “Fear Me Not.” Ulrich Thomsen plays a mild-mannered man who undergoes exhilarating, then ominous changes under the influence of an experimental drug. Intriguing but ultimately unsatisfying as either suspense exercise or character study, this chilly effort will court interest on the track records of cast, helmer Kristian Levring and his co-scenarist, Anders Thomas Jensen, though theatrical export is likely to be spotty.

Michael (Thomsen) has taken a leave of absence from his usual workaholism to enjoy the impressive country home outside Copenhagen he shares with wife Sigrid (Paprika Steen) and teenage daughter Selma (Emma Sehested Hoeg, a find). But he doesn’t know how to relax anymore, and finds the empty days unnerving. When a friend mentions a new antidepressant’s clinical trial, Michael volunteers. Almost immediately, he feels new excitement and enthusiasm, though the pills seem to pull him away from society, even his own family. Soon he’s playing disturbing mind games with Sigrid, whom he thinks his antagonist. Despite precise craft and performances, Michael remains something of a cipher. Tech/design aspects are first-rate.

– Dennis Harvey

Fear Me Not

Denmark

Production

A Zentropa Entertainments 16 production. (International sales: TrustNordisk, Hvidovre, Denmark.) Produced by Sisse Graum Jorgensen. Directed by Kristian Levring. Screenplay, Levring, Anders Thomas Jensen.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Jens Schlosser; editor, Pernille Bech Christensen; production designer, Jette Lehmann. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 5, 2008. (Also in San Sebastian Film Festival.) Running time: 94 MIN.

With

Ulrich Thomsen, Paprika Steen, Emma Sehested Hoeg, Lars Brygmann, Stine Stengade, Josephine Marcher Sandig, Bjane Hendriksen, Bodil Udsen.

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