Studio: Zentropa Productions
Director: Daniel Borgman
Writer: Bo Hr. Hansen
Producer: Katja Adomeit, Peter Aalbaek Jensen
Stars: Vivelill Sogaard Holm, Peter Plaugborg, Sofie Grabol, Ghita Norby, Amanda Collin
Raised in seclusion by paranoid parents, a young hermit begins believing the outside world may not be as dangerous as she was taught.
Jens just wants his family to be left alone. Effectively alienated already, the scant citizens of a small seaside town grant the hermit¡¯s wish for solitude in the wake of a terrible tragedy. His young daughter Liv died by drowning. Now Jens and his wife Maria have more reason to retreat as far as possible from civilization.
Except Liv didn¡¯t really die. Convinced other people cannot be trusted, Jens and Maria chose to shelter Liv from the toxicity of the outside world. Living in a dilapidated woodland home that could feature on ¡°Hoarders: Isolated Island Edition,¡± Jens spends several summers teaching his daughter how to live off the land while warning her to be wary of interlopers who cannot know she exists.
With Maria bedridden from morbid obesity, Liv takes to conducting secret supply runs in the night. Jens has no initial idea Liv regularly rifles through a grieving innkeeper¡¯s cupboards. When he finds out, Jens adamantly insists his daughter must not risk coming into contact with the world¡¯s wickedness. However, Liv is of an age when instinctive inquisitiveness causes her to question how much faith to keep putting into her alarmist father¡¯s skewed worldview.
The collision course between overprotective devotion and adolescent wanderlust accelerates when an unexpected visitor arrives. Meanwhile, Maria isn¡¯t only falling increasingly ill. She¡¯s unexpectedly pregnant, and desperately needs a doctor. With each complication piling onto his paranoia, Jens¡¯ melting mind approaches a tipping point that threatens to finally expose the truth about Liv¡¯s life in seclusion.
Director Daniel Borgman¡¯s Danish-language dramatic thriller ¡°Resin¡± adapts author Ane Riel¡¯s international bestseller ¡°Harpiks.¡± The book¡¯s back cover ambiguously, yet aptly, describes it as ¡°the story of what can happen when you love someone too much ¨C when your desire to keep them safe becomes the one thing that could irrevocably harm them.¡± A front cover pull quote adds, ¡°an extraordinary atmospheric study of obsession and possessive love.¡±
Translated into two-word terms specifically applicable to the film, ¡°Resin¡± can be described with common cinema phrases that are turn-ons for some, but turn-offs to others. Slow burn. Arthouse atmosphere. Character study. Intra-personally interpretive. That¡¯s surprisingly sufficient information to form a reliable impression of the storytelling style ¡°Resin¡± holds in store.
Thematically rich though the movie may be with undercurrents about social anxiety, survival, maturity, and coping with loss, it¡¯s deceptively simple to evaluate ¡°Resin¡± with a sliding scale. I¡¯ll start by scoring the movie at 50/100 because only a heads or tails call can predict whether it will appeal to one¡¯s personal preferences.
I¡¯ll edge up to 55/100 to acknowledge ¡°Resin¡± isn¡¯t average. Artfully macabre production design like a butterfly garden diorama adorning a dead body, costuming choices such as Liv¡¯s knit cap made to look like a medieval knight¡¯s chainmail, and Liv¡¯s literary-like narration give the film the feel of a somber fairytale. It¡¯s a creatively crafted narrative executed effectively with vivid photography transporting viewers to a drearily dreamy place that uniquely exists out of time.
I have to continue bumping up to 60/100 because anything lower doesn¡¯t feel like enough recognition for the evident effort. Heartbreaking acting headlined by Vivelill Sogaard Holm as a suitably sympathetic backwoods tomboy and Peter Plaugborg as her alternately unraveling yet deeply caring father makes for emotionally wrenching performances. Pointed directing skillfully reorients ¡°Resin¡± whenever tone requires a shift from suspenseful to solemn or hopeful to horrific.
From here however, individuals are on their own to add or subtract points as they see fit. If you¡¯re using my star system as a ¡°should I buy?¡± guide, you still have to season to taste because ¡°Resin¡± really requires assigning personalized values on a case-by-case basis.
Additional factors affecting consideration include the following: A patient pace. Diary-like voiceovers providing poetically pondering internal monologues. Metaphors illustrated by stylized shots such as a rabbit carcass decaying in a time-lapse transition. Subject matter teetering into incestuous intimations when it becomes lost in cultural translation, e.g. one moment means to be tender in its depiction of Liv¡¯s family cuddling together in underwear, but that image can come with uncomfortable connotations out of context.
At this point, the movie either sounds like something decidedly intriguing or definitively unattractive. I¡¯d prefer to be more declaratory in my assessment, except ¡°Resin¡± demands to speak in its own voice. What it says might be music for some, but will sound like harsh screeches for others.
Review Score: 60