Review: Du forsvinder (2017)


Du forsvinder (2017)

Directed by: Peter Schønau Fog | 118 minutes | drama | Actors: Trine Dyrholm, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Michael Nyqvist, Meike Bahnsen, Teis Bayer, Sophia Birkow, Laura Bro, Michael Brostrup, Terese Damsholt, Regitze Estrup, Abel Folk, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Sofie Gällerspång, Morten Hauch-Feusbøll, Mer , Olaf Hojgaard

We often think that our personality is fixed. We are who we are. One is thoughtful, the other impulsive. Some people won’t hurt a fly, others have a short fuse. Your behavior and your thoughts define who you are. Yet we are all dependent on the whims of our brain. Fluctuating hormone levels can make you depressed or manic. Brain damage can lead to aggression, suspicion or apathy. “He is no longer himself”, people say. To what extent do you have control over the processes that take place in your brain? The Danish film ‘Du forsvinder’ (translation: you disappear) tries to investigate where personality ends and illness begins.

In the opening scene, we see private school principal Frederik (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) driving down a mountain road with his family. His teenage son Niklas tells him to drive on a bit. That’s what Frederick does. His wife Mia (Trine Dyrholm) urges him to calm down, but Frederik pushes the gas further and further. The panic sets in. Even Niklas doesn’t think it’s funny anymore. At the end of the ride Frederik collapses. A brain tumor is diagnosed in the hospital. Some time later, Frederik is arrested for embezzlement. His school is in danger of going bankrupt because he diverted large sums of money for years. Frederik’s lawyer Bernard (Michael Nyqvist) claims that his client committed the offense under the influence of his brain tumor and is therefore not responsible for his actions.

‘Du forsvinder’ shows that your personality is actually very vulnerable. It is nothing more than a biological system. If something goes wrong due to illness or trauma, your brain just builds a new personality. We see that this can be a double-edged sword. Mia tells in the courtroom that she noticed that Frederik has changed in recent years. He became more impulsive and spent more time with his family. He began to express his emotions. In fact, he became a nicer person. But did he choose to become a nicer person, or was that the brain tumor? For Mia, it’s a painful thought. On the other hand, there are Frederik’s affairs. Also the result of pressure on the brain?

‘Du forsvinder’ questions our ideas about personality and free will. That makes for interesting conversation, but it doesn’t necessarily make for a good film. Director Peter Schønau Fog tells his story in fragments that feel snappy. For example, Niklas bites his mother into drinking herself to death. “Huh?”, you think as a viewer. Only later you will see what this comment refers to. Time jumps are a legitimate stylistic device, but in ‘Du forsvinder’ they are applied messily and make sure you don’t get into the story well. The distant voice-over, in which Mia explains all kinds of theories about how the brain works, does not make matters any better. And then there’s the storyline surrounding lawyer Bernard, whose wife also has brain damage. All in all it feels dreary. Sometimes it even feels fake, although the twist at the end somewhat explains why.

Schønau Fog is keen to highlight all aspects of the theme of personality and free will. Every now and then you get the feeling that you are attending a lecture. The message of ‘Du forsvinder’ is clear, but the film does not manage to touch the emotion. Unfortunate.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.