A Soap

A Soap


Reviewed by: Susanna Krawczyk

To describe something as a “soap opera” is to say it is unrealistic, flamboyant, melodramatic and escapist; something that revels in its lack of reality and high drama quotient. Such are the soaps that transsexual Veronica (David Dencik) enjoys between servicing clients and looking after her dog, Miss Daisy. Into her life waltzes Charlotte (Trine Dyrholm) looking for an escape from boredom and sameness which are all she is finding in her life with her boyfriend of four years, Kristian (Frank Thiel).

Charlotte is something unusual in film: a female protagonist who is rude, abrupt, slightly crude, possessed of a tendency to say precisely the wrong thing in any given situation and unapologetic about it. When this type of character does appear she is often vilified, but not so here. We are meant to like Charlotte, and to feel for her in her quest to find something more from life. Her exploits are framed as chapters of episodes of what is apparently a soap, complete with dramatically-voiced recaps and speculation at the end of each one, spoken by a man with a fast-paced “movie-announcer” voice. Despite this, the story of Charlotte and her relationships with Veronica, Kristian and the one-night-stands she brings back to her flat is not particularly soapy. Rather it is often embarrassing, a little bit gritty, a little bit silly, a little bit scary and generally very much like real life.

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There is a menacing undercurrent to the film, and it is the menace that is part of the lives of many women – in this case those who have left their partners to strike out alone and those who were born male but now wish to identify as female – who are living lives not subject to the conventions that society lays down for women. When Kristian turns up drunk on Charlotte’s doorstep, it is easy to predict what will happen. His tearful pleas afterwards that he only did it because he “wants her back” are all the more pitiful and frightening because so many men somehow believe that violence towards their partners is a sign of devotion.

Veronica experiences violence of an emotional kind. Her mother refuses to call her anything but “Ulrik” and we learn through their conversations that her father refuses to acknowledge her existence. She waits in daily hope of a letter confirming her date of operation, and even when this begins to complicate matters, this film does not rely on easy answers or quick fixes. The ambiguous but satisfying ending, in which nothing is resolved, amply shows this, because if your aim is to escape from boredom then quite frankly resolutions are your enemy.

Reviewed on: 26 Feb 2007
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A Soap packshot
A beauty shop owner and transsexual soap opera addict form a friendship which leads to drama of its own.

Director: Pernille Fischer Christensen

Writer: Kim Fupz Aakeson and Pernille Fischer Christensen

Starring: Trine Dyrholm, David Dencik, Frank Thiel, Elsebeth Steentoft, Christian Tafdrup

Year: 2006

Runtime: 104 minutes

Country: Sweden, Denmark

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