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22 April 2013 @ 11:20 am
Film Review: Die Tur (The Door)  
I've been a little out of touch with LJ of late, mainly due to an increased workload (dissertatiooooonnnn...!!!) and the fact that I'm pretty sure my latest obsession with NBC's Hannibal is not to everyone's taste (yeah, yeah. I see what I did there). One thing that's come from my new found love for this show, however, is I'm now taking a slow inventory of Mads Mikkelsen's other works. I'd seen him around in various films (Casino Royale, King Arthur) but I'd yet to see him star in anything.

So, I recently checked out this German film he made a few years back. I selected it because in many ways it hit all my favorite elements in a story: regretful fathers, grief, and TIME TRAVEL!

David Andernach (Mikkelsen) is a successful artist who is living the dream with a wife and young daughter and a mistress who lives just across the street. At the start of the film, his daughter, Leonie (Valeria Eisenbart) wants to catch butterflies in the garden with David. Rather than babysitting her as he should be doing, he leaves her to hunt butterflies while he goes over to his mistress’ for a quick romp. Unfortunately, Leonie has an accident while he’s gone and drowns in the family swimming pool.

5 years later, David’s wife, Maja (Jessica Schwarz) who understandably and rightfully blamed him for their child’s death has left him and is now living with another man. David, who is constantly guilt-ridden attempts to end his life when he discovers a mysterious door. Walking through it, he ends up in what seems like a parallel universe that’s 5 years behind David’s own universe, allowing him to intervene on that crucial day and save Leonie’s life.

Despite the film’s sci-fi/horror elements, the story is very much rooted in the character arcs as David struggles to handle the consequences of his actions. Obviously he’s thrilled that his daughter (or at least a version of her) is now alive but his very presence in the parallel universe triggers off a string of events that rapidly spirals out of control.

I’m going to try very hard to not spoil major plot points as the suspense of what’s going to happen next is a huge plus for this film. I’ll just say that  there really are two of everything in this film (so for a few glorious minutes we have two Mads Mikkelsens!) and there are consequences to that.

Amazingly, despite some unanswered questions (e.g. where did this door even come from?), the main focus is really the drama that starts to unfold as David decides to stay in the parallel universe to try and recapture the family he lost. I stopped caring about the logistics of parallel worlds and butterfly effects (which is unusual for me) and ended up getting swept away by the more emotional components. Scenes like David watching Leonie sleeping soon after he saves her and his conversation with her later when she, out of everyone, senses first that he’s not her real father, are heart-wrenching.

Acting all around from Mikkelsen down to the girl who played Leonie was pretty first rate. I was rather impressed that I sympathized with David as much as I did in the beginning of the film, considering his selfishness and callousness all around culminated in the death of his daughter. But witnessing the aftermath of that event, his inability to move on and broken desperation for forgiveness from his ex-wife who continues to loathe him were done well enough that I started to feel like as awful as David was at the start, he didn’t deserve the level of misery he was trapped in.

My one gripe about the particular copy that I watched is that Mikkelsen’s voice was dubbed over by a German actor. From what I hear, he did the film in German and while he was understandable he did have an accent and the filmmakers dubbed him in order to eliminate that. Frankly, if they were going to hire a Danish actor to play this character, couldn’t they have just done a quick line to let us know David is Danish, living in Germany? Would that have been so hard? Whoever did the dubbing did an excellent job, but the difference did jar me a bit. However, the Germany Bluray of this film, I hear, does have a 2nd audio track with the original voices.