The tag line to the independent film Copenhagen goes a long way in revealing all that we need to know about the central character, and protagonist of the film: “When the girl of your dreams is half your age, it’s time to grow up.”
Copenhagen, obviously set in the titular city, is about William, who goes to Denmark in hopes of finding his long lost grandfather, in order to deliver a letter to him from his own father. Originally a “guys” trip, William is quickly abandoned by his friend, and strikes up a friendship with a 14-year-old waitress, who decides to help him solve the mystery of who his grandfather was, and how to go about finding him.
What follows is a beautiful film shot in one of the great cities in the world. Copenhagen does the same thing for that city as other travel coming of age stories do, such as Vienna in Before Sunrise, or Tokyo in Lost in Translation. The city comes to life, and strong directing helps the Danish capital become one of the characters in the film.
William must wrestle with the demons of his past, barely knowing his own father, and wanting to know why he was smiling in one of the photographs that he manages to track down. Effy, the young girl, leads him around the city, seeking out clues as to the whereabouts of the man that he is related to, essentially the last relative that he has, even if he has never met him before. William is faced with a reckoning of his own life, his own past, his friendships, and his future.
Throw in a Lolita-esque story line, and Copenhagen becomes something quite special. The central focus of the film shifts from the seeking of his past, to the relationship that he develops with Effy. While there are some questionable decisions that he makes, he tries to grow up, and be the bigger person through his relationship with her. For William, a man approaching 30 years old, it is a kid that is able to teach him what he needs to know about his own life, which makes this a strong coming-of-age story.
Frederikke Dahl Hansen, who plays Effy, is the best part of the film. She plays a quiet and soft-spoken girl, who simply wants to help this stranger out. Her tenderness and maturity are what help William get to where he needs to be, all the while she wrestles with her own issues. Selflessly, she is able to put them aside for the majority of the time, in order to help somebody else out. Hansen is a strong actor with a bright future, and she really breathes life in to Copenhagen.
Despite some less than stellar acting from the other members of the cast, the film is buoyed by a strong script and solid directing. And, at the end of the day, the story is there. Even a little bit of over-acting will not have the power to take down the strong backbone of the film, which is the story line itself.
Copenhagen is one of those pleasant Netflix finds that will not have you regretting the time spent watching it. The movie, while often bleak, other times quiet, is able to do exactly what this genre of film is supposed to do: bring forth a sense of hope in the characters, that they will be able to move on as regular, better people, after their experiences over the course of the story. Copenhagen does this, making it a very good film. Well worth a watch.