Carmen & Babyface

The contented lifestyles of a teenage brother and sister are disrupted when their parents divorce in this handsomely produced but familiar tale. Returns should be modest.

With:
Carmen ... Sofie Grabol Adrian ...Rasmus Seebach Karen (Mother) ... Ulla Henningsen Herman (Father) ... Waage Sando German Teacher ... Charlotte Sieling Knife Grinder ... Leif Sylvester Brian ... Kenneth Friis Headmaster ... Kai Lovring

The contented lifestyles of ateenage brother and sister are disrupted when their parents divorce in this handsomely produced but familiar tale. Returns should be modest.

Set in 1962, during the Berlin crisis, the film kicks off with the flighty Carmen (Sofie Grabol) and her kid brother Adrian (Rasmus Seebach), whom she calls Babyface, living blissfully happy lives.

Father is a ceramist, Mom a generous, life-embracing Mother Earth character, and they live cozily, if chaotically, in a cluttered house in the Copenhagen suburbs.

Their happiness comes abruptly to an end when their parents acrimoniously separate and Dad runs off with his female apprentice. The siblings move with their distraught mother to the countryside, where they find a rundown, drafty cottage.

They’re both taunted at school for being “townies” and different; Carmen responds by simply staying away, while Adrian has to put up with the bullying. After a while, he befriends a boy in the school, but this, too, proves temporary.

Eventually, he finds the love he needs in the sympathetic arms of his teacher.

One of the writer/director Jon Bang Carlsen’s major achievements here is to re-create the spooky time in which John F. Kennedy faced off Nikita Kruschev over Berlin, a city not too far away from the Danish border. At the height of the crisis, an electrical power failure in the village brings an added feeling of foreboding.

But the upfront story is a familiar one, and Carlsen has nothing much new to say about the problems of teenagers forced to accept a new lifestyle after their parents have divorced.

Also, he tends to push his actors into over-the-top performances, though Ulla Henningsen is superb as the woman driven to the point of madness by the loss of her husband.

“Carmen & Babyface” (the original Danish title) is a modest achievement, decently made but not very original.

Carmen & Babyface

(DANISH)

Production: A Zentropa Entertainment/Nordisk Film/Carlson & Co./Danish Film Institute production. (International sales: Nordisk Film.) Produced by Peter Aalbaek Jensen. Executive producer, Lars Kolvig. Directed, written by Jon Bang Carlsen.

Crew: Camera (color), Dan Laustsen; editor, Grete Moldrup; music, Hans-Erik Philip. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (market), Feb. 11, 1995. Running time: 81 MIN.

With: Carmen ... Sofie Grabol Adrian ...Rasmus Seebach Karen (Mother) ... Ulla Henningsen Herman (Father) ... Waage Sando German Teacher ... Charlotte Sieling Knife Grinder ... Leif Sylvester Brian ... Kenneth Friis Headmaster ... Kai Lovring

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