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Denmark, 2012, 92 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Drama, Family Issues, Romance, Sports
Program: Contemporary World CinemaLanguage: Danish, English, Thai English Subtitles
DIRECTOR: Mads Matthiesen
Producer: Morten Kjems JuhlEditor: Adam NielsenScreenwriter: Mads Matthiesen, Martin ZandviletCinematographer: Laust Trier-MørkPrincipal Cast: Kim Kold, Elsebeth Steentoft, Lamaiporn Sangmanee Hougaard
Despite his massive size and powerful physique, 38-year-old competitive bodybuilder Dennis lives a very small life near Copenhagen. He works out each day at the gym and goes home each night to his mother, a wisp of a woman with a powerful stranglehold over her son. Socially inept with the opposite sex, Dennis cannot find love or even a date, so he follows his uncle’s lead and travels to Thailand to procure a bride.
An American bar owner fixes Dennis up with the local prostitutes in Pattaya City, but the aggressive sex workers, fascinated by his body, make him even more uncomfortable. Dennis goes to a gym for solace, and the trainer there introduces him to Toi, widow of the gym’s owner. Dennis finally makes a connection and musters the courage to form a relationship. Upon his return to Denmark, he makes plans to bring his new girlfriend over. But when his mother finds out, she unleashes a tirade against her soft-spoken son.
In his first feature, Danish director Mads Matthiesen and his co-screenwriter, Martin Pieter Zandvliet, give their muscle-bound, tattooed protagonist few words, but allow him to communicate with his body. The camera focuses tightly on Dennis lifting weights, showing his physical strength, and then pulls back to reveal his fragile yet sweet interior. As Dennis emerges from lonely isolation, he develops a different kind of power and asserts his right to happiness. Even in the face of his mother’s rage at what she sees as betrayal, he treats her with respect and deference. Real-life bodybuilder Kim Kold plays the role of Dennis with understated sensitivity.
Teddy Bear, an expanded version of Matthiesen’s acclaimed 2007 short Dennis, screened at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
- JOEY PORCELLI
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