Following its world premiere at Intl. Film Festival Rotterdam earlier this week, where it continues to play to sold out screenings, Karoline Lyngbye’s “Superposition” is scaring viewers also outside the Netherlands, with TrustNordisk securing deals in Benelux with September Film Rights, in Poland with Mayfly, former Yugoslavia with Cinemania Group, and the CIS territories with Provzglyad – Vesta LLC.
“I am very interested in genre,” Lyngbye tells Variety at the Dutch festival. “Denmark has more of that drama tradition, but recently we have been opening up. I have always looked up to von Trier and Lynch, and I am a huge fan of [Robert Eggers’] ‘The Lighthouse.’ When you mix genre with a character-driven plot, you can get something special.”
In the film – produced by Amalie Lyngbo Quist for Beo Starling IVS – Stine and Teit decide to leave their comfortable city life. With their young son, they head straight to the Swedish woods where they are supposed to heal their relationship, marked by infidelity and mutual accusations. But when their child disappears in the forest, they discover they are not alone after all. They actually have neighbors, who look just like them.
“I thought it would be fun: you meet these people but they are not some horrible version of you. They are the same, only their circumstances are a little bit different. So what the hell are you supposed to do now?,” laughs Lyngbye.
“It’s a chance to look at your faults from the outside, but it can also be wonderful. Here’s someone who knows everything about you already, who accepts you completely and has the same problems. Who knows how much you actually hate your husband.”
Faced with a rather unusual doppelgänger issue, the couple – played by Marie Bach Hansen and “A Royal Affair’s” Mikkel Boe Følsgaard – needs to uncover their long-dormant issues.
“Maybe it’s the affair that makes this relationship what it is, maybe it’s something else. The thing is, they can’t get past it,” observes the director.
“They are so used to talking, expressing their every thought. It doesn’t really help them – they still don’t trust each other at all. But what if suddenly there is no baggage? What if you can see your spouse the way you used to before?”
Determined to create a sense of overwhelming dread, Lyngbye wasn’t interested in jump scares, she says, trying to find fear and suspense in “organic places.”
“We didn’t want it to be too effect-driven. It was important to keep it on this existential level, while still suggesting that something is seriously off.”
In the trailer, also shared with Variety, the pair’s ambitious plans to “find each other as a family and as a couple” quickly go down the drain. But while aware of their faults, Lyngbye didn’t want to mock her protagonists.
“I am these people. I see them everywhere I go,” she says. “I have a daughter, a boyfriend who is an artist. We have the exact same problems. At the same time, I know that we are privileged and spoiled – just like Stine and Teit.”
“I do feel for them, though, because they are also trying their best. We all keep thinking: ‘How can I be happy? How can I be fulfilled, in every aspect of my life, all the time?’ A lot of people, me included, are looking for ways to escape this constant pressure. And just be.”
Despite its mysterious setup, briefly explained in the story, Lyngbye wanted to keep things simple in “Superposition.”
“We talked a lot about how much we should uncover. At one point, they were supposed to have a quantum computer under the house,” she jokes.
“Then I realized it’s not important at all. It was nice to put the viewers and the characters in the same position: nobody knows what’s going on. But it’s really happening – it’s not just some crazy dream. I didn’t want to be too technical about it, so you have to enter this crazy universe and accept it for what it is.”
Encouraged by the film’s warm reception – at the time of writing, “Superposition” is still among the IFFR audience’s top 10 favorites – Lyngbye would like to continue playing with genre elements in her work.
“I would say this film is a combination of arthouse with something much more accessible, which I love, and I am interested in exploring that further. There is an audience for this.”