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September 8, 2008 | by  | in Film |
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Directed by Ole Christian Madsen

Christoffer (Mads Mikkelsen, last seen in the compelling family drama After the Wedding, and, more notoriously, scratching Daniel Craig where the sun don’t shine in Casino Royale) and Maja travel from Denmark to Prague to retrieve Cristoffer’s father’s body. The father inexplicably left when Christoffer was 12, and had barely spoken to him since. In Prague, the Danes meet a series of unerring, unblinking, humourless Czechs: the hotel waiter who doesn’t serve goulash on a Tuesday, the creepy pathologist at the morgue, the lawyer who has some unexplained connection to the father and gratuitously does the paperwork, and the attractive young woman who strangely lives in the father’s house with her daughter. Everyone expects Christoffer to be a lot more affected by his father’s death than he is, and it is blackly funny when the pathologist tells him to go ahead and cry. While the couple is there, their marriage begins to break down when Christoffer confronts Maja about something she has been keeping from him. Strangely, in realising how little they know about one another, what happens between them is at once an end and a love affair.

Prague is a curious mix of Scandanavian sensibility and European passion. It is essentially a study of a series of miscommunications, those between Christoffer and both his father and Maja. The theme echoes everywhere: in the cultural differences, in the way Christoffer, not having a tape player, has to play the tape his father left for him in a jazz bar, and in the way every time Christoffer orders a beer he gets a coffee and vice versa. Neatly accenting the study of miscommunication is the fact that most of the dialogue between the natives and Christoffer is in English, everybody’s second language. It may be an odd blend, but it is one which works surprisingly well, and one which I enjoyed.

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