The narrative ploy of having an amnesiac central character trying to uncover/recover their identity surfaces again in jobbing Danish director Christian E Christiansen's part psycho-drama, part glossy Euro crime thriller, ID:A. Christiansen, who helmed the ill-received Single White Female knock-off, The Roommate, has constructed, along with screenwriter Tine Krull Petersen, a slick, engrossing and entertaining tale of murder, stolen money and deception on a continent-spanning scale. The narrative as a whole may be implausible, with the whiff of a disposable, sensation seeking airport novel about it, but it's a solidly directed and performed film that despite pushing the believability stakes provides an engaging evening's viewing.

Hopping from France, to Denmark and the Netherlands, with production money supplied by companies from those three countries, and accompanied by a score that flits between contemplative strings and pumping electronica, ID:A unfolds in fittingly non-linear fashion, reflective of the fragmented, flashback strewn memory of its central character, played in convincing fashion by Tuva Novotny.

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Waking up in a river in the south of France, with no memory of who she is or how she got there, bearing a scar on her abdomen and carrying a bag containing two million euros, a gun and a sketched portrait of an unknown man, Novotny's character is faced with piecing together her real identity and connection to the recent murder of a high profile local politician. After discovering that she can read Danish, 'Anna', as she Christens herself, travels to Copenhagen to begin the intriguing, and potentially life-threatening task of reconstructing her identity. 'Anna' is the eyes and ears of the viewer as, save for a few brief shots, the amnesiac is in every scene, and what she discovers about herself, the viewer discovers at the same time.

Christiansen instils the sense of the daunting magnitude of 'Anna's' predicament with shots of her isolated and dwarfed against the French landscape and then the imposing structure of a Copenhagen concert hall, where 'Anna' discovers she is really called Ida. In similar, and obvious, visual terms, a radical change in her appearance from long blonde hair to a short femme-fatale black cut, highlights issues of identity, both assumed and real, as does the offbeat entrance of a transvestite into the story.

Duplicitous, secret and divided personalities run throughout ID:A, as the narrative opens up to take in familial angst, left wing politics and underground activism. Like its lead, ID:A undergoes a rupture, where Ida's is in terms of memory, the film's is in terms of pacing. After a lengthy and stately set up, where information is uncovered in incremental steps, ID:A flips into an extended and high-octane flashback detailing everything up to the film's outset. The move from aftermath to catalyst takes the viewer from mystery to explanation and from relative calm to an explosion of graphically violent action as, paradoxically, the more things fall into place for Ida, the more her life unravels.

Featuring prominent roles for Flemming Enevold and Carsten Bjørnlund, who will be instantly recognisable to fans of Forbrydelsen II, ID:A is another in the growing list of Scandinavian crime offerings to hit the UK market. With the adaptation of Jo Nesbo's Headhunters and the horror thriller Babycall (starring the original Dragon Tattoo girl, Noomi Rapace) in cinemas at the moment, ID:A's timely DVD release comes as audience interest in all things dark and bloody from the region is seemingly at its peak.

Reviewed on: 14 May 2012
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A woman with amnesia has to uncover her connection to a politician's murder.
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Director: Christian E Christiansen

Writer: Tine Krull Petersen

Starring: Tuva Novotny, Flemming Enevold, Carsten Bjørnlund, Arnaud Binard

Year: 2011

Runtime: 104 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Denmark


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