Everything’s not “Okay” in the lives of 37-year-old Nete (Paprika Steen) and her family. Her father is dying, her husband is cheating, her daughter is angry and her brother is feuding with dad. This modestly produced but extremely sympathetic and honest pic explores the lives of these and other characters over the course of a few fateful weeks. Pic is a good example of Danish realism made without Dogma pretentions, and it’s been a domestic hit, but outside Scandi territories it’s more likely to be of interest to quality TV programmers than mainstream distribs.
Nete works for an employment agency, and she likes to be in control of things. She’s bossy and insensitive, and a heavy smoker as well, but she cares for her husband, Kristian (Troels Lyby), who teaches at the university and is trying (none too successfully) to write a novel, and for 14-year-old Trine, who’s going through a difficult age and is chafing at the braces she’s supposed to wear on her teeth.
When Nete’s father, Johannes (a fine performance from veteran Ole Ernst) is diagnosed with leukemia and given less than a month to live, Nete’s attitude is typically confrontational: She’s appallingly rude to the kindly doctor who tries to explain things to her a gently as possible.
She persuades Johannes, a widower, to give up his flat and move in with her, though the apartment is consequently over-crowded and there are plenty of frictions, especially when the old man seems to get a new lease of life and shows no signs of expiring as the weeks go by.
Kristian takes out his frustrations by bedding a willing student, but Nete quickly discovers his infidelity and throws him out. The lives of Nete and her family are further complicated by the long-standing feud between her father and her brother, Martin, who is gay; the two haven’t spoken since Martin came out eight years earlier.
There’s nothing particularly original about this intimate story of family squabbles and recriminations, but scripter Kim Fupz Aakeson and director Jesper W. Nielsen are good at probing the foibles of these very ordinary people. Although Nete comes across as exceedingly overbearing at first, Steen delicately conveys the distress she experiences when she comes to realize that she’s getting to be just like her late mother, a woman both she and her father loathed.
Production values are modest but adequate for this small-scale slice of life.