'Love Is in the Air'

Self-indulgent musical "Love Is in the Air" comes when a gay teen tells his best friend that you can tell you're in love if a girl farts in your face and you still want to be with her.

Perhaps the defining moment in the shallow, self-indulgent musical “Love Is in the Air” comes when a gay teen tells his best friend that you can tell you’re in love if a girl farts in your face and you still want to be with her. In his seventh feature, a pastiche of Scandi pop that pretends to say something profound about affairs of the heart, Danish helmer-writer Simon Staho (“Heaven’s Heart”) provides the cinematic equivalent of letting one rip. Odds are that even hardcore Staho fans will steer clear.

Essentially a four-hander filled with annoying single-trait types rather than fleshed-out characters, the pic unfolds with minimal action during one long night in various oddly empty urban settings, garishly decorated with colored filters and kitschy digital effects; think “One From the Heart” crossed with “Moulin Rouge.”

Recently bereaved Daniel (Gustav Hintze) is obsessed with self-involved thrush Lina (Emma Sehested Hoeg), a blatant opportunist. Also aiming to get laid is Therese (Victoria Carmen Sonne), who offers her virginity to closeted Stefan (Anton Honik), but he’d rather pleasure himself with photos of Danish footballer Michael Laudrup.

Sporting elaborate, anachronistic costumes and carnivalesque makeup for no apparent reason, the four lip-synch and romp to a selection of bouncy tunes that supposedly express their sexual frustration and desires. Dialogue is negligible, full of vulgarities and often delivered in a shout.

Although there’s little to like or admire about selfish, sociopathic Lina, Hoeg’s full-bore performance reps the pic’s best element. A talented musician as well as a thesp, the blonde beauty sings her own songs and delivers a withering putdown with the panache of Paprika Steen.

A wink-wink widescreen homage to musicals of yore (the credits refer to “MusicalScope” and “Popovision color”), the cotton-candy craft package relies extensively on f/x. Rapid-fire cutting, grotesque camera angles and varied motion speeds make the film play like MTV on steroids.

Love Is in the Air

Denmark-Sweden

Production

A Nordisk Film (in Denmark) release of a Zentropa Entertainments production, in co-production with Film i Vast, with the support of XX Film, DFI, SF Film, DR TV, Anagram Produktion, Trollhatten Film, SVT, SFI, Nordisk Film & TV Fund. (International sales: TrustNordisk, Hvidovre, Denmark.) Produced by Jonas Frederiksen. Executive producers, Peter Garde, Peter Aalbaek Jensen. Co-producers, Jessica Ask, Gunnar Carlsson, Martin Persson, Jitte Wahl, Michael Fleiseher. Directed by Simon Staho. Screenplay, Staho, Peter Birro.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Sebastian Wintero; editor, Anders Villadsen; music, Gasolin, Lars H.U.G., D-A-D, Dizzy Mizz Lizzy, Anne Linnet, Ostkyst Hustlers, Gnags, Daseorkestret, Laid Back, News, One Two, Malurt, Lis Sorensen, Halberg Larsen, Steen Jorgensen; production designers, Nikolaj Danielsen, Soren Skjaer; costume designers, Helle Nielsen, Lone Irus, Ole Kofoed, Stine Terp; sound (Dolby SRD), Rune Palving. Reviewed at Gothenburg Film Festival (Nordic Light: Denmark), Feb. 1, 2012. (Also in Berlin Film Festival -- Generation 14plus; 2011 Chicago Film Festival. Running time: 84 MIN.

With

Emma Sehested Hoeg, Gustav Hintze, Victoria Carmen Sonne, Anton Honik. (Danish, English dialogue)

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