Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
The cow gave birth to a calf with two heads, and they weren't just any two heads. Into the bog it went. All sorts of village problems sink in the bog. No telling what's rotting down there. This beginning may make "Terribly Happy" sound like a modern-day "Motel Hell," where Farmer Vincent buried people to their necks and fattened them like geese. But no, this is a dour and deadpan film noir from Denmark, and a good one.
Robert (Jakob Cedergren), a young policeman from Copenhagen, has been exiled as punishment to a dismal village in South Jutland. He's about 30, single and made a "terrible mistake" that he doesn't talk about. The town doesn't look like some cheery Danish hamlet, but more like a rundown grain elevator town in the Old West. When he steps into the bar, he's made to feel not only unwelcome, but in some subtle way threatened. The drinkers regard him with a level, cold gaze. They laugh at him behind his back. When he goes to get a bicycle repaired, he finds the repairman missing. He's told it's not uncommon for folks to go astray.
He asks a young woman for directions. This is Ingelise (Lene Maria Christensen). She has that Shirley MacLaine gamine look. She's not a raving beauty, but has undeniable sex appeal. Robert senses it -- he feels an attraction -- but no, that would be wrong. But that happens when wrong starts to look right?
Something very wrong is happening in this town. The guys in the bar were unfriendly because they have every reason to believe Robert is kidding himself if he thinks he can get anything accomplished as the town's new marshal. It gradually develops that Jorgen (Kim Bodnia), the husband of Ingelise, is feared by everyone, not least Ingelise, who he beats. The film's most eerie detail involves their little daughter. When she parades alone down the abandoned main street with her baby buggy and its squeaky wheels, everyone knows domestic violence is taking place at Jorgen's house.