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  In Your Hands I Don't Believe In MiraclesBuy this film here.
Year: 2004
Director: Annette K. Olesen
Stars: Ann Eleonora Jorgensen, Trine Dyrholm, Lars Ranthe, Nicolaj Kopernikus, Sonja Richter, Sarah Boberg, Benedikte Hansen, Henrik Prip
Genre: Drama, Fantasy
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Anna (Ann Eleonora Jorgensen) is a newly ordained priest who has applied for the post of prison chaplain at an all-women's prison while the current one is away on sick leave. The warden tells her that they wouldn't normally accept a priest with so little experience for the post, but she has excellent qualifications so gets the job. On her first day of work, a new inmate arrives by the name of Kate (Trine Dyrholm) who is keeping the reason for her incarceration secret from the other prisoners. Another thing she isn't letting on about is that she may have a special talent, a talent for healing, but when she cures Marion (Sonja Richter) of her drug addiction by laying her hands on her, she starts to get unwelcome attention...

In Your Hands, or Forbrydelser as it known in Danish, was proclaimed as being the last ever, official Dogme 95 film. The Dogme rules were created in 1995 by four Danish filmmakers, among them most famously Lars Von Trier, but despite the publicity it offered only two films really made an impact with the public, and they were among those first four: Von Trier's The Idiots which gained notoriety for having about two seconds of hardcore sex in it, and Thomas Vinterberg's Festen which was notable for being really very effective with controversial subject matter. After those, nothing really connected and the Dogme rules became seen as a gimmick more than ever by the cynics.

Written by the director Annette K. Olesen and Kim Fupz Aakeson, the film is a pessimistic account of the limits of faith, and how a belief in the power of God does not translate into a trust of your fellow man (or woman). Although Kate appears to have a special ability (surely a Dogme 95 rule breaker?), she is ironically in prison for taking a life, which we don't find out the details of until later in the film - and neither does Anna. Nevertheless, Anna is intrigued by Kate when she is told by her that Anna is pregnant. Anna knows this is impossible, as she and her husband Frank (Lars Ranthe) cannot have children - or can they?

In fact, Anna is pregnant after all, and overjoyed at the news, but there are complications. Kate is suffering complications too after she leaves jail for a day on a visit for her sister's wedding, but when she gets off at the train station with warder Henrik (Nicolaj Kopernikus) she breaks down, not being able to bear the attention she dreads. And so a tentative romance develops between her and Henrik, obviously a relationship that is doomed due to their circumstances. Meanwhile Anna and Frank are seeing a doctor who tells them that due to Anna being over 35, a test on the health of her foetus is recommended, which eventually leads to a chromosone problem being discovered.

Now Anna faces a tough choice about whether to keep the baby and risk it being handicapped, or to abort the foetus. Despite her religious calling, she has no faith that everything will turn out alright, almost accepting that God has no command over her happiness. And so, predictably, she considers turning to Kate and her magic powers to help, and that's the drawback with this film: there are no surprises. The miserable ending is no shock after ninety minutes of gloomy misanthropy where every spark of hope is extinguished by the reality that nothing will turn out well. There's nothing over the top about In Your Hands, and that's to its advantage, but it's divided between a fantasy solution and a lack of confidence in human nature. It offers a potent dilemma, but could have been better served by a plot less reliant on the supernatural, even if that is what is finally rejected.

Aka: Forbrydelser
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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