Sunday, 16 July 2017

The Door (5 Stars)

Don't you sometimes wish you could turn back time? Everyone does. How often do you do something that you wish you could undo? Sometimes you say something, and as soon as the words have left your mouth you wish you had remained silent. It's too late. Sometimes you make a decision, and it's not until years later that you see the consequences. Maybe you took the wrong job. Maybe you married the wrong woman. To take one example from my own life: after graduating from university I wanted to work for two years before returning to do a Ph.D. After two years my boss offered me a 25% pay rise to stay in the company. The money convinced me to stay, which was the silliest decision I ever made in my life. On the basis of money alone, I would have earned much more after completing my Ph.D, but just think of the more interesting directions my life would have taken and all the people I would have met. I'd like to turn the clock back and tell my boss to stuff his offer, but it's too late. It's years too late.

Turning back time to get a second chance is a popular theme in films, especially German films. That's the topic handled in "Fenter zum Sommer" ("Summer Window"). At the moment there's a film called "The grass is greener on the other side" which is currently running in German cinemas; I'll probably go to see it later this week. Second chance films fascinate the Germans, and they fascinate me.

In "The Door" Mads Mikkelsen plays the struggling artist David Andernach, who makes a mistake bigger than anything I've ever done. While his wife is at work he's looking after their young daughter Leonie. He leaves the house to have sex with a neighbour. When he returns he finds Leonie dead in the swimming pool. That's the worst loss of all, but there are other losses, like the aftershocks of an earthquake. His wife leaves him, he becomes unable to work, and he turns to alcohol.

Five years later David is given a second chance. He steps through a hidden door which takes him to the day of his daughter's death. He sees her fall into the swimming pool and saves her from drowning. This might sound like a Happy Ever After scenario, but there's a price to pay. If David wants to keep his daughter he has to become a murderer. Everyone who finds out about his return from the future has to die.

This is a much darker film than the other second chance films. Mads Mikkelsen is perfect as the brooding David Andernach. Even when he's happy we see sadness engraved in his face, as if he suspects the tragedies to come. The film has never been given the recognition it deserves. I consider it to be one of the best German films ever made. It's only been released on DVD in England, but the German Blu-ray has English subtitles.

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