Danish maverick director Christoffer Boe ("Reconstruction," "Allegro") delivers his most slickly commercial pic yet with the ironically titled "Everything Will Be Fine." Retooling the dark paranoid thrillers of the Vietnam era for the entertainment of the Afghanistan generation, complete with stylish Euro packaging, the scribe-helmer shows himself to be as able a craftsman as any of his compatriots. But absent Boe's trademark formal inventiveness, and subordinating character to plot, "Fine" never becomes more than a well-turned genre exercise. Scattered fest and arthouse dates, especially in Scandinavia, will precede a fairly happy ending in ancillary.
Danish maverick director Christoffer Boe (“Reconstruction,” “Allegro”) delivers his most slickly commercial pic yet with the ironically titled “Everything Will Be Fine.” Retooling the dark paranoid thrillers of the Vietnam era for the entertainment of the Afghanistan generation, complete with stylish Euro packaging, the scribe-helmer shows himself to be as able a craftsman as any of his compatriots. But absent Boe’s trademark formal inventiveness, and subordinating character to plot, “Fine” never becomes more than a well-turned genre exercise. Scattered fest and arthouse dates, especially in Scandinavia, will precede a fairly happy ending in ancillary.
An overworked Danish filmmaker, Jacob (Jens Albinus), and his wife (Marijana Jankovic) are in the final stages of adopting a baby from the Czech Republic, though Jacob has little time for his domestic life. Nagged by his producer (Boe regular Nicolas Bro) to come up with a screenplay just days before production starts (shades of “Nine,” minus the singing), Jacob literally has a run-in with a great story when he hits a man of Persian decent (Igor Rado) with his car. The victim insists he take his bag, which, Jacob later discovers, contains pictures of Danish soldiers torturing people in Afghanistan.
But the bag’s owner mysteriously disappears, and not much later, Jacob is followed by assailants who are after the photos. His TV-host sister (Paprika Steen) puts him in touch with a respected journo (Olaf Johannessen) who might be able to help, though Jacob, who wants to do the right thing, now seems less certain about whom he still can trust.
Scrambling timelines and following several threads at once (including the backstory of the accident victim), Boe and his trusted editor, Peter Brandt, have fun parceling out information in measured doses. Aided by Sylvain Chauveau’s sleek, propulsive score, the rhythm remains taut as the puzzle pieces slowly fall into place, and the pic is pleasurable in a let’s-see-what-happens kind of way.
But this latest film from Boe (a Cannes Camera d’Or winner for the earlier “Reconstruction”) remains a cold-blooded puzzle for most of its running time. Like the titles that make up Alan J. Pakula’s “paranoia trilogy” from the ’70s — an obvious inspiration here — the director is so obsessed with getting the intricate narrative mechanics right that the story seems mainly populated by plot points, not people.
Jacob, a classic wrong-man-on-the-run on paper, has a private trauma (the problematic adoption) and a professional one (the unfinished screenplay) as well as lots of doubts, but no real personality, despite Albinus’ game performance. As the pic progresses, Jacob views everyone else with suspicion, essentially reducing them to two-dimensional extensions of the plot. Boe also treats the potentially damaging photos of the Danish soldiers as just another thriller element, while the overwrought ending is too much, too late.
Camerawork by regular Boe collaborator Manuel Alberto Claro is flashy and not particularly original, but does support some narrative ideas. Occasional tilt-shift photography makes real urban landscapes look like the set models spied in the opening sequence (further blurring the line between life and the film Jacob is prepping), and Claro displays the heaviest use of lens flare since the “Star Trek” reboot, visually suggesting that everything seems sunny in the state of Denmark.
Other tech credits are equally on the ball.