You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘In Your Arms’

A lyrically lensed tale of a bitter, late-thirtysomething man suffering from a fast-moving motor neuron disease and the enigmatic nurse persuaded to deliver him into the hands of a Dignitas-like organization in Switzerland.

Lisa Carlehed, Peter Plaugborg, Johanna Wokalek, Kirsten Olesen. (Danish, German, English dialogue)

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2719660/?ref_=nm_flmg_dr_1

Whatever one’s feelings about the right to die with dignity, it’s not easy to watch even a fictional character commit assisted suicide in excruciating detail, and this difference will likely color viewer response to the Danish euthanasia drama “In Your Arms.” Debutant Samanou Acheche Sahlstrom nabbed the generously funded Nordic Film Award in Gothenburg with his naturalistic, lyrically lensed tale of a bitter, late-thirtysomething man suffering from a fast-moving motor neuron disease and the enigmatic nurse persuaded to deliver him into the hands of a Dignitas-like organization in Switzerland. Fests will embrace this provocative query into what makes life worth living.

Coming on the heels of Danish helmer Bille August’s mercy-killing tearjerker “Silent Heart,” “In Your Arms” is a slender mash-up of road movie, chamber play, tragedy and love story, which depends on our accepting that slim, attractive loner Maria (Lisa Carlehed) — depicted as so alienated from life that she lives in a cold apartment, doesn’t always wash, eats corn flakes out of a box, and can’t be bothered to name her cat — has the time and willingness to be a Charon of sorts. Here, Maria is dedicated to her job as a nurse at a Copenhagen care home, which houses those who can no longer perform the essential functions of daily life such feeding or bathing themselves.

One of her patients is the acid-tongued, mostly paralyzed Niels (Peter Plaugborg), who can only find pleasure by wounding others with his comments. Anger over his fate has led him to ask his family not to visit any longer, although he doesn’t hesitate to ask his beleaguered mother (Kirsten Olesen) if she would help him take his own life – something she can’t bring herself to do.

After Maria saves Niels from a bloody suicide attempt, her excessive empathy (not to mention guilt sparked by his barbed remarks) convinces her to grant his ultimate wish and take him to Switzerland, even though she doesn’t approve of the purpose of his trip. As the odd couple’s odyssey takes them from Denmark through Germany to Switzerland, their bond deepens and, natch, frees Maria find more pleasure in her life.

What does make life worth living? Well, according to Sahlstrom, sex and intimacy. A visit to a Hamburg red-light district that exploits every possible cliche furnishes the former, while Maria’s loving attentions supply the latter. If one can get past the screenplay’s improbable male-fantasy element of the selfless, available Maria, then there is much to admire in the strong, sometimes naked, never sentimental thesping of Carlehed and Plaugborg, sensitively captured in closeup by lenser Brian Curt Petersen, as well as the expressive editing by expert cutter Theis Schmidt. Nevertheless, pic’s final 15 minutes are tough sledding as the sober Swiss describe how the final medication will work on Niels’ system, and then we observe it in what feels like real time.

Now clearly a helmer to watch, the French-born Sahlstrom moved to Denmark in 2001 and started working at creative producer Lars von Trier’s Zentropa production house the following year. He graduated from the National Film School of Denmark in 2011 with the short “Les Amours perdues,” which, interestingly, also involves a suicide attempt and a woman’s obsessive feelings of responsibility for the would-be suicide.

Film Review: ‘In Your Arms’

Reviewed at Gothenburg Film Festival (competing), Jan. 31, 2015. Running time: 88 MIN. (Original title: “I dine haender”)

Production: (Denmark-Germany) A Meta Film production in co-production with Tamtam Film, with the support of New Danish Screen, Filmforderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein. (International sales: Meta Film, Copenhagen.) Executive producer, Meta Louise Foldager. Produced by Sara Namer. Creative producer, Lars von Trier. Co-producers, Andreas Schutte, Dirk Decker.

Crew: Directed, written by Samanou Acheche Sahlstrom. Camera (color, HD), Brian Curt Petersen; editor, Theis Schmidt; music, August Rosenbaum; production designer, Charlotte Bech; sound, Oskar Skriver.

With: Lisa Carlehed, Peter Plaugborg, Johanna Wokalek, Kirsten Olesen. (Danish, German, English dialogue)

More Film

  • Stan Lee, left, and Keya Morgan

    Stan Lee's Former Business Manager Arrested on Elder Abuse Charges

    Stan Lee’s former business manager, Keya Morgan, was arrested in Arizona Saturday morning on an outstanding warrant from the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD’s Mike Lopez confirmed that the arrest warrant was for the following charges: one count of false imprisonment – elder adult; three counts of grand theft from elder or dependent adult, [...]

  • Moby attends the LA premiere of

    Moby Apologizes to Natalie Portman Over Book Controversy

    Moby has issued an apology of sorts after writing in his recently published memoir “Then It Fell Apart” that he dated Natalie Portman when she was 20 — a claim the actress refuted. “As some time has passed I’ve realized that many of the criticisms leveled at me regarding my inclusion of Natalie in Then [...]

  • Bong Joon-ho reacts after winning the

    Bong Joon-ho's 'Parasite' Wins the Palme d'Or at Cannes

    CANNES — The 72nd edition of the Cannes Film Festival wrapped with jury president Alejandro González Iñárritu announcing the group’s unanimous decision to award the Palme d’Or to South Korean director Bong Joon-ho for his sly, politically charged “Parasite.” Following last year’s win for humanistic Japanese drama “Shoplifters,” the well-reviewed Asian thriller represents the yin [...]

  • Invisible Life Brazilian Cinema

    Cannes Film Review: 'The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão'

    A “tropical melodrama” is how the marketing materials bill “The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão.” If that sounds about the most high-camp subgenre ever devised, Karim Aïnouz’s ravishing period saga lives up to the description — high emotion articulated with utmost sincerity and heady stylistic excess, all in the perspiring environs of midcentury Rio de [...]

  • Best Movies of Cannes 2019

    The 10 Best Movies of Cannes 2019

    The Cannes Film Festival is too rich an event to truly have an “off” year, but by the end of the 72nd edition, it was more or less universally acknowledged that the festival had regained a full-on, holy-moutaintop-of-art luster that was a bit lacking the year before. It helps, of course, to have headline-making movies [...]

  • Aladdin

    'Aladdin' Soaring to $100 Million-Plus Memorial Day Weekend Debut

    Disney’s live-action “Aladdin” remake is on its way to a commendable Memorial Day weekend debut with an estimated $109 million over the four-day period. The musical fantasy starring Will Smith and Mena Massoud should uncover about $87 million in its first three days from 4,476 North American theaters after taking in $31 million on Friday. [...]

  • 180423_A24_Day_03B_0897.jpg

    Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe's The Lighthouse' Wins Cannes Critics' Award

    Robert Eggers’ “The Lighthouse,” with Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, won the Cannes Film Festival critics’ award for best first or second feature in Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week, one of the first prizes for which “The Lighthouse” has been eligible at Cannes. The award was announced Saturday in Cannes by the Intl. Federation of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content