I Am Dina (Norwa - 2002)
Starring: Maria Bonnevie, Gérard Depardieu, Christopher Eccleston
Director: Ole Bornedal
Plot: After accidentally causing the death of her mother, a young girl grows up to be become the wild, head-strong young mistress of a large property in 19th century Norway, but can't help but be haunted by the ghosts of those departed.
Review: Based on a popular Norwegian novel, I Am Dina is what director Bornedal calls "an emotional action movie", a lavish, epic melodrama with many
interesting layers and elements, a fascinating character study of a larger-than-life subject. Indeed, part period piece, part epic family drama, and part ghost story, it's an epic endeavor that feels almost like a modernization of a Jane Austen story with its seething characters and bridled emotions. This is far removed from the slow, depressing film one might come to expect; the timeframe is mid-19th century, but the film looks and plays out like a contemporary one. Bornedal knows his way through a Hollywood-type production (he did the US remake of his own
Nightwatch) and it shows: slick production, fast edits, quick pacing, flashy camera work all
belly its "period piece" setting all help make this a very modern-looking tale. It's a rich,
roller-coaster ride of a story, full of overly melodramatic moments and memorable instances. Shot on location, the amazing cinematography captures the fjords, the snowy mountain peaks, and the surreal icy setting showing off the spectacular varied landscape to best effect. Dina is a feminist character living ahead of her time, a head-strong young woman who has her own view of the world around her and has a fascination with death, a major theme of the film. As the titular heroine, Bonnevie is simply magnificent, playing the ravishing young matriarch (and femme fatale) with wild abandon, like a force of nature. Depardieu is in good form as the short-lived hubby, as is Eccleston playing the anarchist / lover with a heavy Russian accent. Unfortunately, this European co-production was filmed in English, probably to maximize its potential audience, and that's too bad: many in the international cast have a hard time with the language making some moments quite jarring. Still, thanks to the force of its acting, this is quickly dismissed. With
I Am Dina, the filmmakers were looking to do the ultimate melodrama, and in all the ways that count, they succeeded brilliantly, making this mainstream effort an enjoyable experience for all audiences.
Drama / Entertainment: 8/10