Echoes of Bergman, Resnais, Hitchcock and Leone resonate clearly in the shots, rhythms and sensibility of the work of Danish filmmaker Jesper Just, of which A Vicious Undertow is a dazzling example. The quality of the image (shot in black-and-white 16 mm film), the precision of the camera movements, the sequences, soundtrack, sets, costumes and lighting all reflect a mastery of cinematic art.
“What I find interesting,” says Just, “is to use the language of cinema in an artistic context, and to challenge it.”
A Vicious Undertow focuses on the mysterious relationship between a middle-aged woman (Benedikte Hansen), another younger woman (Laura Drasbæk) and a young man (Johannes Lilleøre, who features frequently in Just’s films). Shot in Copenhagen in the richly decorated setting of a former brothel, the film weaves love, memory and dream into a fable where image and sound combine to form a work of great beauty.