Edinburgh Film Festival – Superposition

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2023 – Superposition
Directed by Karoline Lyngbye,
Starring Marie Bach Hansen, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Mihlo Olsen
(Danish language, with English subtitles)

Stine (Marie Bach Hansen), a frustrated writer, and her partner Teit (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard), a broadcaster and podcaster, have decided to quit the rat race of life in urban Copenhagen, and are moving with their young boy, Nemo (Mihlo Olsen), to try living for a year completely isolated in a designer cabin, near a lake in the Swedish forest, with Stine planning to use the peace and space to get back to her novel, while Teit is recording regular podcasts on their experiences, although since they are too remote for any web access, he has to put his shows on a USB drive then mail them to his radio station and the people bankrolling their lifestyle change. It will not surprise anyone to learn that their plans to not go quite as expected, and they start to learn more about one another than they anticipated – in a rather unusual way.

Right from the beginning there’s a lovely visual style to Superposition by cinematographer Sine Vadstrup Brooker, with a view of the calm lake waters, the line of the opposite shore bisecting the middle of the screen, the water reflecting the trees and the clouds above, but tilted ninety degrees to the side, slowly rotating back to the more normal viewpoint; a beautiful image, but also one that whispers of something not right, something being out of kilter, in this remote location.

At first they settle in quite happily, exploring the very cool, designer cabin and surrounding woods and lake, their wee boy and dog, Tarzan, happily running around while they settle in. As Tein sets up the microphones for his first recording, however, the cracks start to appear, as an at-first genial discussion between him and Stine about why they came here and what they hope to get out of it, produces answers Tein isn’t too happy with. Stine points out that they agreed to be honest in these recorded discussions, something he likes to pride himself on, but we can already see that actually he’s quite sensitive to honesty when it concerns him.

This is all handled in a nice, quiet, intimate manner between the two characters, no histrionics, no shouting. It’s also a nice bit of storytelling economy – we get the gist of their relationship and troubles (he had an affair, cheating on her, she resents giving up her plans to be the Great Young Novelist she was earmarked by the writing establishment to become in favour of raising a family) in one short scene, along with the obvious fact that both are also creatives and seem a bit competitive on that front as well as on their personal relationship. It’s deftly done, no flashbacks or long expositions, we get it all in this quiet, neat way, letting us into the characters and their lives.

So far you could be mistaken for thinking this is going to be one of those films where people with troubles escape into nature and find the struggle to live in it helps them put their personal problems in perspective, and overcome them. But this is more “glamping” than really back to nature, whatever the pair of them think (fancy cabin, electricity, computers, music, wine, hardly roughing it). And there is something else going on – they glimpse another family of three, on the far shore of the lake.

This surprises them as the location was sold as being totally remote, with no-one else near them. Stine in particular seems very put out by this (given the vast spaces around them, it’s hard to feel any sympathy for her here, she seems more petulant than anything else). They try to avoid these others, which should be easy as they are away on the other side of the water, but of course, we know sooner or later something will bring them in contact with one another. And when they find these others are, well, them, they are understandably confused. Why are dopplegangers of them here in this remote forest? Where did they come from, what do they do?

Edinburgh International Film Festival - Karoline Lyngbye 02
(Director Karoline Lyngbye, on the right, talking to the film festival audience, pic from my Flickr)

Although you can see little hints of the likes of Peele’s Us, this is a different beast, and uses this encounter to further explore the damaged relationships between the main couple in a rather novel way. Starting as a drama, Superposition mixes in elements of science fiction, thriller and horror into its DNA, and combines it with some lovely cinematography (riffing cleverly on reflections and duos), while scenes with the characters interacting with their duplicates are very well done (the director explained they had some of the visual effects team on hand during the actual filming to make sure it was done right, a laborious task involving multiple takes of scenes).

An intriguing, clever and beautifully shot piece of cinema from Denmark.

This review was originally penned for Live For Films

The International Flag Conspiracy

A number of people, watching ‘outraged’ Muslims burning Danish flags this last week (I use outraged advisedly since they were so outraged by Denmark they attacked EU buildings and American airbases, so a cynical person may think they just felt like having a good old riot about anything that came along) have asked the obvious question of where the hell did all these Danish flags appear from in Beirut, Tehran, Damascus and the fine desert oasis of Camelcrack?

The intrepid Woolamaloo team have been investigating and unearthed some startling conclusions. We think it is a conspiracy by the shadowy conglomerates behind the international flag industry. It runs from the local scale, such as the Beirut Flag, Petroluem and Matches wholesale company to the huge corporations who manufacture the world’s flags. Demand in the Middle East for the Stars and Stripes has exceeded all possible supplies since George W Bush’s re-election. However, the secretive international flag merchants have warehouses full of the national flags of many nations who have rarely, if ever, offended a Muslim (admittedly a list which is getting smaller every day almost, since it now looks almost as if talking about Islam being offended about something is actually offensive too…).

The flag conglomerates, working though political lobbyists, PR agents and media connections, in conjunction with their local Middle Eastern wholesalers, analyse their unsold flag reserve stock and compare it against countries unpopular in Muslim regions, before using their contacts to create a scenario which will soon embroil the country with the largest number of unsold flags to become the new target for the latest two minue hate. Sales of US and British flags have reached saturation point, plus they can’t keep up with demand, so now they can offload vast amounts of unsold Danish flags and grow new markets at the same time. Some major reference publishers and globe-makers who are controlled by the international flag conglomerate are also in on this, as fundamentalists worldwide require access to information on the flags of the world so they can order the correct flag to go with their matches and petrol.

Like all large conspiracies this may seem fantastical at first, but considering the world is in a ferment over a cartoon and George Bush suddenly can reveal about a dangerous terrorist attack thwarted by intelligence several years ago magically a couple of days after he came under attack for the illegal wiretaps on American citizens (which he totally denied previously, stating such taps could only happen with judicial oversight) and suddenly it becomes easier to believe.

Meantime it is a shame that Muslims are boycotting Danish goods and also forbidden from eating pork, as otherwise they could cook some great bacon sarnies over the burning flags and wash it down with some cool, refreshing Danish lager, make it a proper barbie, perhaps relax them a little. How few of these poor fundamentalists know that they are not being manipulated by angry Imans, Bin Liner, Areshole Hamza or the scripture of the Koran but by the secret cabal of international flag manufacturers?