Today: July 17, 2024

Above the Street Below the Water

Above the Street Below the Water gives a fly on the wall

Above the
Street Below the Water gives a fly on the wall glimpse of the lives of a group
of people living in a trendy, affluent area of inner city Copenhagen.
Within a setting of a main stretch of
canal and looming, modern buildings the lives of each of the characters are
intertwined, linked by family, work or marriage. The main focus of the film is the family of worn out Ask (Nicolas Bro) and his ignorant wife Anna (Sidse Babett Knudsen). On the surface they are a strong, bonded family, successful
in career and happy in life, but the truth is quite different. A professional actress, Anna has
absorbed herself in her work to the detriment of each member of her family,
unwittingly neglecting them. One
morning Ask informs her that he wants to separate, a decision which sets in
motion a chain of events where everyone around them must take a long hard look
at their lives and relationships.

Although it may seem confusing, the characters in Above the
Street Below the Water are concisely and interestingly linked, very much in the
style of Shortcuts or even Love Actually. Anne and Ask have regular appointments
with marriage counsellor Charlotte (Ellen
). Charlotte is the young
wife of Anne’s manager: theatre
director and aged philanderer Carl (Norwegian actor Nils Ole Oftebro) who gets his kicks from bonking young girls – unknowingly
in full view of his wife’s window.
Ask is having an affair with theatre critic Bente (Ellen Hillingso), who’s gentle but troubled ex-husband Bjorn (Anders W. Berthelsen) has illegally docked his
barge in the canal under Charlotte’s window. Meanwhile, as the adults become continually immersed within
the events of their own lives, their sweet but neglected children are suffering
difficulties of their own.

A feature debut by director Charlotte Sieling, the film is infused with a range of well-known Danish
acting talent – and it shows.
Powerful, believable performances and emotion-filled facial close-ups
draw you in to the characters’ predicaments, with the action pumping along at a
swift pace. While Berthelsen is
charming as Bjorn, a father tackling a difficult relationship with his son, the
most notable character performances come from Knudsen, Bro and Lea Høyer as daughter, Irina. Knudsen is very convincing as a woman
who, despite undergoing marital guidance, is completely unaware that she has become
estranged from her husband and family.
She does try initially to better the situation by committing to working
less but is blind to just how much her family has been affected. Her own daughter feels she cannot
confide in her and her ignored little son is forced to walk home by himself in
a heart-breaking scene where Anne fails to collect him. Bro is wonderful as Ask, a caring
father but a man overly depended upon, exhausted and seeking a more loving
relationship. The most compelling
of the three is Høyer as Irina.
Headstrong, caring and much more like the mother of the family than
Anne, there is so much emotion in her face as she worries for her younger
brother and battles her own problems alone.

The scenic backdrop of the canal and city buildings provides
the ideal, modern setting for this film, but it is the artistic side setting of
the theatre that is the most interesting.
The last section of the film plays out at this location, with the
theatre located near the harbour, stunningly lined with glimmering candles on
the opening night of Anne’s performance in Hamlet. Based on Shakespeare’s premise of a ‘play within a play,’ this final act
plays out like a theatre drama in itself, full of imagery with the use of the
colour red, including the female protagonists inadvertently wearing the same
red dress.

Ultimately, in Above the Street Below the Water much does get
resolved with no questions left unanswered. This is a film with plenty to say about love, relationships,
consequences and knowing what you want in life.

Misha Wallace - Social Media Editor

From the age of 4, Misha Wallace became transfixed by movies like Halloween and The Birds from behind the couch, unbeknownst to her family. This has developed in to an obsession with fantasy and horror films (and a considerable number of cheesy 80s and 90s flicks – but she will not be judged). If she was a character in a film she'd be the girl at the end of a horror movie, doused in blood but grinning victorious. Email: or find her any time of the day or night on FilmJuice social media.

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