Miss Viborg


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Miss Viborg
"Solvej is a wonderfully rich character and Kaasgaard is clearly enjoying herself." | Photo: courtesy of Glasgow Film Festival

Sometimes life takes us to unexpected places. Marianne Blicher’s feature film début begins as Solvej (Ragnhild Kaasgaard), a plump, sixtysomething woman who is not in the best of health, wakes up and removes her breathing mask. We watch her as she hauls herself out of bed and goes through her morning routine, whilst listening to puntastic local radio. She puts on a bit of make-up, still trying to look her best; hears the mother and daughter next door yelling at each other again; goes to the nearby garages to get her mobility scooter, and tucks her wee dog, Paul Reichardt, into the carrier on the back. Then she sets off on her rounds, selling pills to local addicts.

It’s not how she saw herself getting old, but Solvej has succeeded, in her own way, in hanging on to her dignity. She has her principles – despite pleading from that young neighbour, Kate (Isabella Møller Hansen), she doesn’t sell to kids. She has ambition – she’s got a suitcase full of saved-up money and she’s learning Spanish. She still hopes for a brighter future. When one day a would-be burglar breaks into her flat, however, the underlying precariousness of her life is exposed. Confronting the burglar, she is knocked down and injures her ankle. It’s the sort of injury which the average person could easily work around, but on top of existing disability, it makes numerous aspects of day to day life impossible. The situation is looking grim – until Kate, just turned 18 and strapped for cash, expresses an interest in helping.

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Intergenerational comedy brings this nicely observed film to life, but there’s more going on than that as the two women’s very different approaches to life alternately inform one another and clash. Kate welcomes financial opportunity but she doesn’t want to be dependent on anyone. She dreams of going to Hannover to search for the father she never knew. Solvej tries to cheer her up with cakes, but she’s wary of getting fat, and makes disparaging remarks about the older woman’s appearance. Both of them present tough exteriors to the world but have an inner fragility. Solvej hides in routine where she can. Kate finds this frustrating and tries to snap her out of it by arranging a date.

Can Solvej handle romance at this stage in her life? Lorry driver Preben (Kristian Halken) is persistent, striving to get past her assumption that he’s a chaser. When a new crisis occurs she will need him, but everything is complicated by a past which, despite her frequent references to it, neither he nor Kate has the slightest inkling of.

There’s a lot of good work here. Solvej is a wonderfully rich character and Kaasgaard is clearly enjoying herself. Blicher paces the film well and undercuts its more absurd moments with a dry wit. It is rather formulaic, however, and this becomes problematic at the end, which seems cowardly in light of what has gone before. There’s some wonderful use of bad karaoke but not quite enough nerve to embrace imperfection elsewhere. Nonetheless, viewers will find a good deal to enjoy along the way.

Miss Viborg screened at the 2023 Glasgow Film Festival.

Reviewed on: 04 Mar 2023
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Miss Viborg packshot
In a small Danish town, we meet two generations of women. 61-year-old Solvej and the 17-year-old, Kate. Their meeting kickstarts an unlikely friendship, as the wounds of the past are revealed and the seeds of hope are sown.

Director: Marianne Blicher

Writer: Rasmus Birch, Marianne Blicher

Starring: Ragnhild Kaasgaard, Isabella Møller Hansen, Kristian Halken, Josephine Park, Claes Bang

Year: 2022

Runtime: 100 minutes

Country: Denmark, Argentina


Glasgow 2023

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