REVIEW: ID: A (DVD)

From Zentropa, the production company behind Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia and Antichrist, comes ID: A. Following on from the recent wave of popular Scandinavian crime shows and films, including The Killing, Borgen and adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s books, ID: A is an intelligent compelling amnesia-based thriller.

The title sequence artistically opens with a shot of a female body lying in the Rotja River filmed through cobwebs. From a close-up, we gauge she’s alive and it soon becomes clear she’s forgotten her identity.

Taking on the name Aliena Amiel, inspired by a drink’s label, our mysterious lead has a nasty cut on her head and deep stomach scar. In addition, she discovers wads of money, a familiar-looking sketch and a gun in the duffel bag she’s carrying. Her non-French sounding accent is even more perplexing, as are the men who come looking for her to later steal surveillance footage from the small hotel she’s staying in. Luckily for her, the kindly hotel receptionist helps her alter her appearance and escape her pursuers.

With no familiar faces or surroundings, the media acts as her only memory trigger. TV footage leads to worryingly violent and bloody flashbacks. When Aliena watches a news broadcast and discovers controversial French politician, Uga Marshall, has been killed in a nearby house, she expects the worst, fearing her involvement. Over-hearing personal stereo music, she recollects a Danish classical singer and decides to flee France to seek him out in hope of discovering the truth.

Arriving in Denmark, she’s still being followed and is immediately recognised. She soon learns she’s married to the singer whose voice was so familiar-sounding but feels little relief. News from her sister that their brother, Martin, is wanted by the police in the Netherlands does little to help her piece together her past and newspaper headlines about a six million Euro robbery arouse further suspicions. Hiring a private detective to explain why she’s being tailed, she discovers both her husband and brother have links to the now dissolved CLWG (the Communist Liberation Workers Group) and that they once tortured people.

Initially slow-burning, ID: A eventually explodes into a series of chase and torture scenes. Director, Christian E. Christiansen, exploits circular camera spins around our lead to symbolise her continuous sense of disorientation and uses dark hues to depict the film’s gritty backstory. Tine Krull Petersen’s multi-lingual screenplay is on the whole naturalistically played with the odd classically cliched thriller line: “Make him talk”. Understated performances allow characters to merely play their part in piecing together Aliena’s identity without detracting. By very gradually offering mixed-media fragments of her past, ID: A is captivating and acts as an interesting study of memory triggers.

Film Score: 4/5

Director: Christian E. Christiansen

Writer: Tine Krull Petersen

Starring: Tuva Novotny, Flemming Enevold, Carsten Bjornlund, Arnaud Binard, John Buijsman

Release Date: May 14 2012

Review by: Leo Owen

(Danish Trailer)

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