Soap

2006, Movie, NR, 104 mins

Review

SOAP | EN SOAP | SOAP, A
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A tough-to-like, newly single woman and a depressed pre-op transsexual find each other — if not necessarily friendship — in Danish director Pernille Fisher Christensen's smart and assured spin on traditional soap-opera tropes. Four years into her relationship with Kristian (Frank Thiel), the young doctor with whom she was about to buy a house, beauty-salon owner Charlotte (the marvelous Trine Dyrholm) decides she's bored with her life and packs her bags while he's away at a medical conference. Charlotte moves into the first flat she finds, which turns out to be in a rundown section of town. When she needs help moving the large bed the previous tenants left behind, she knocks on the door of her downstairs neighbor, suicidal transvestite Veronica (David Dencik), who supports herself by turning tricks out of her apartment. Estranged from her father and visited only by her mother (Elsebeth Steentoft), who nonetheless can't accept that the boy she raised as "Ulrik" would rather live as a woman, Veronica is anxiously awaiting an official letter approving sexual-reassignment surgery, and wiles away the solitary hours with only her dog, Miss Daisy, and her favorite soap opera for company. Veronica agrees to help Charlotte move the bed, but finds her new neighbor bossy, insulting and insensitive to her fragile feelings. She wants nothing more to do with Charlotte, but winds up owing her a huge debt of gratitude after Charlotte saves her life: Awakened late one night by Miss Daisy's frantic barking, Charlotte finds Veronica half-dead from a deliberate drug overdose and summons an ambulance. While Veronica recuperates in the hospital, Charlotte looks after Miss Daisy and collects the mail — accidentally shuffling that all-important letter into a pile of magazines and worthless circulars. Veronica returns willing to give friendship with Charlotte another shot, but just when it looks as if they're finally about to become friends, Charlotte's difficult personality gets in the way; that is, until an angry Kristian pays Charlotte a late-night visit and Veronica is able to pay her debt in a way that really counts. Christensen simultaneously avoids all the cliches that might have been heaped upon her beautifully rendered characters and roots their travails in everything that makes for a good soap: tragedy, tears, sexual tension, misplaced letters and a slightly sardonic voice-over that teases the plot lines like the old-fashioned, "tune in tomorrow" narrator of yesteryear. leave a comment --Ken Fox

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