No fighting scenes, no gory bloodshed violence, no big pep talks or serious thought-provoking lines, also, no big movie stars. “Copenhagen” (2014) has nothing to claim itself as blockbuster or must-watch movie of this year. I’m just teasing you. 🙂 I’m teasing you hard. It’s true that the movie “Copenhagen” doesn’t have any of the trendy requirements for a successful movie above. But it still stands out among one of the best movies in 2014. And it’s true again.
I happened to know this movie thanks to my colleague’s recommendation. She told me she watched this movie last week, and Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, looked lovely in that movie. I nearly jumped when hearing the name she mentioned. Hell, yeah, Copenhagen, my most favourite city of all cities, the city I visited and never forget, the best 5-day trip ever in my life. All my memories about Copenhagen flushed to my mind: the sunny, chilled summer days, the hot grilled sausage sandwiched in crispy hot bread served in every 7-11 convenience store, the fresh cherry sold in boxes in front of the central station, the Danish girls gorgeously biking around cities with their fluttering floral skirts , the laughter from the Tivoli theme park right behind the central station etc. Copenhagen, it’s the city of joy and happiness, the city of fairytale, the city that I love dearly. So, when I knew about that movie, I definitely had to watch it. The name Copenhagen itself was already appealing to me 🙂
To be honest, the movie was better than my expectation. I came to watch the movie with the sheer intention of checking my beloved city Copenhagen on screen, re-seeing the places I went to in Copenhagen on screen. But the movie is more than a showcase of the lovely landscapes like some movies with the city names pinned on. The movie is about the quest to finding your self, and the courses of human relationships.
“Copenhagen” starts with the main character William wandering aimlessly in a foreign city. His face always looks pissed and sour, and he is always on the verge of screwing up everything around him. He is rude and immature.The reason could be traced to the fact that his buddy Jeremy and he are on the trip across Europe, crashing in different small hotels and finally ending in Copenhagen to find his family root in Copenhagen. William’s father died and left him nothing much except a torn old letter addressed to William’s grandfather in Copenhagen. William was intrigued and decided to track down his grandfather in Copenhagen to give the letter. And more than that, he is curious about his family story.
However, the trip is kinda ruined as Jeremy tags his girlfriend along. In my experiences, there’s nothing worse than a 3-people trip, and you end up being the third wheel. That explains William being so difficult during their trip. At some points, Jeremy left William in Copenhagen to go to London with his girlfriend. That’s when William learns that being the third wheel is the worst but being alone in a foreign city is worse than worst. William struggles miserably in Copenhagen, trying to find a person he hardly knows in a foreign city. He hates being alone and being abandoned – what he experienced at the age of 14 : being abandoned by his own father. In a nutshell, he suffers in Copenhagen. William is helpless in Copenhagen and craves for companion. At that point, on the surface, the story looks pretty much like other movies about being in a foreign city. Then, William meets Effy, a Danish girl working as a waitress in a café. The story starts getting unfolded to William’s journey to track down his origin and William’s feelings for Effy. On the surface, the story sounds like “Before sunrise”; some people claim it is more like “Lost in Translation”. But I beg to disagree. “Copenhagen” has different feels attached to it.
In “Copenhagen”, the city looks like a fairy land , a dream place rather than a strange , foreign metropolis city. No people pushing around in metro , no people shouting in foreign language, no gangsters, no weird rituals, no clumsily touching the chopsticks like the very first time. “Copenhagen” is more of a pleasant journey in a small, lovely holiday destination. The movie continues with William and Effy biking around the city, passing through the romantic colourful houses, and wide canals . All that scenes are blended in a placid beautiful summer Denmark backdrop. William and Effy also lead us to the lively, crowded bar in Copenhagen, a place for young and hip Danes , or the small, moody pubs. Nearly all the lovely sides of Copenhagen are wrapped up beautifully and neatly in the movie.
When the letter leads William to his father’s uncle rather than the grandfather, and the uncle reveals an unpleasing history about his family, William is shocked again. His grandfather was a Danish Nazi, and his grandfather treated his grandmother and his father badly. His grandfather abandoned his grandmother and his father; making them leave to American by themselves. William could see his father’s story in his story. The history is wired from generation to generation. Without any more clues about the true identity of his grandfather except an ugly history about his family, William is devastated and upset. That’s when Effy is there again for him. She helps him to go to all the places that his father took photos in, and re-invents the history by taking photos of William in these exact places. In meanwhile, she helps him trace down the true identity of his grandfather. Well, not help, she does everything .
Effy is intelligent, strong-willed, lively, and impulsive to the extent of recklessly dragging William to be “ burglars” by entering to strangers’ house without permission. Effy really lifts up something in William, asking him to question himself about his life and feelings. Thanks to the genuine performance of Fredeikke Hansenm, Fredeikke painted the character not too over the top or too subdue, making Effy real and close to us : real as a smart girl, but still a girl. And yes, in the movie, Effy is still a fourteen years-old, half of William’s age. And their sparkling feelings are prone to the illegal matter, intriguing us to continue watching it to see whether William continues his search for grandfather, and how they will deal with their feelings. Once again, the movie is not dramatic yet unpredictable. That’s the nice turn of “Copenhagen”. The movie is the real adventure for Effy and William to discover their inner self, and the turn of relationships. The meeting and parting of humans, the disclosing and un-disclosing of humans feelings: different things are interwoven in this movie.
(This scene in the museum does show Fredeikke’s strong acting. The scene has the perfect stillness and suspense, embed with mystery and romance)
Beside the beautiful, well-crafted cinematographic scenes and the genuine performances of the cast, the music in this movie is spot-on. The mixture of Danish songs and English songs complements the movie on the perfect tone and mood.
I have to admit I rate this movie a little personally as it’s about my favourite city, but I urge you to watch this movie after you spend days crouching in cinemas watching all the sci-fi, action blockbusters. The movie is light-hearted yet makes us think later on. It doesn’t have any big talks or thought-provoking lines, yet the stop keeps dwelling on our minds for a while. \
My rate is 7/10 🙂