'The Girl with the Needle' Review: Magnus Von Horn's Dark Fairytale Retelling of Denmark's Most Notorious Serial Murder Case is Beguiling - Cannes Film Festival - Latest Global News

‘The Girl with the Needle’ Review: Magnus Von Horn’s Dark Fairytale Retelling of Denmark’s Most Notorious Serial Murder Case is Beguiling – Cannes Film Festival

Magnus von Horn’s second feature film Sweat earned its director a place in the official selection of Cannes in 2020 after his debut. The hereafterplayed in Directors’ Fortnight in 2015. But the 2020 festival was canceled due to the Covid pandemic, so von Horn was able to be represented in this year’s competition with his third feature film The girl with the needle, must certainly mark the Swedish director’s coming of age. The film, starring Vic Carmen Sonne and Trine Dyrholm, takes on one of Denmark’s most notorious murder cases and spins a poetic and dark fairy tale about the people living on the margins after the First World War.

Dyrholm plays Dagmar Overbye, the Danish serial killer who was convicted of murdering nine children between 1913 and 1920 – but is suspected of numerous other deaths. One of them was her own; The others were given to her by struggling mothers with babies out of wedlock who believed she would care for the children and find them new homes.

The girl with the needle The film cleverly follows one of these mothers rather than Dagmar herself, highlighting the incredibly precarious situation women found themselves in after the war. Karoline (Sonne) works as a seamstress in a factory that produces uniforms for the war effort. Fearing that her husband is dead in military service, Karoline begins an affair with the dark-skinned factory owner, whose high-ranking family rejects her, and she meets Dagmar in a bathhouse when she unsuccessfully tries to abort her baby.

There are echoes of Victor Hugo in the struggles Karoline faces and in each of the characters she meets – including, we are led to believe, Dagmar, whose matter-of-fact demeanor suggests a woman modestly trying to find her way way to find an impossible world; do what it takes to keep her head up. You can’t blame Karoline for striving to do the same. So she delivers her baby and gives it to Dagmar. “You did the right thing,” Dagmar says to her and the other women who cross her path, repeating it like a mantra.

RELATED: Director Magnus Von Horn enters Cannes competition with ‘The Girl with the Needle’: ‘It was a story that provoked me deeply’ – something worth watching

Within a day, Karoline learns that the baby has been placed with a respected family. “Doctors or lawyers,” says Dagmar vaguely and Karoline really wants to believe her. She is still breastfeeding and offers Dagmar to work as a wet nurse to help her look after the babies before they find their foster families. It takes a while for her distrust to grow, fueled by Karoline’s overwhelming need to believe that she has made the right decision for her child.

On the sidelines of the story, Karoline imagines a pair of fairytale princes. The factory owner Jørgen (Joachim Fjelstrup) is tall and dashing and seems to genuinely love her, but a villainous stepmother will shatter this impossible dream. And then her husband Peter (Besir Zeciri) returns from the war, his face disfigured beyond recognition by the injuries he sustained. He has a good heart, but Karoline has trouble letting him back in. He passes by as a freak in the traveling circus, and a ringmaster challenges Karoline in the crowd to kiss this frog. She desperately wants him to turn into her prince, but there won’t be a happy ending for them.

RELATED: Cannes Palme d’Or winners: Photos from each of the festival’s top films over the years

Von Horn and his co-author Line Langebek manage the impressive feat of balancing the truth of this story with its inspired fiction, and Michał Dymek’s gorgeous black-and-white photography somehow feels both dreamlike and documentary. This kind of delicate transition between extremes permeates all departments, with Jagna Dobesz’s sets – including a dripping, bird-poo-encrusted attic room for Karoline and a glittering sweet shop over which Dagmar lives – evoking both truth and fantasy in equal measure.

It is precisely because the truths of this story are so clear that this high-wire work succeeds. Dyrholm captures Dagmar Overbye so precisely that she is able to achieve moments of genuine pantomime villainy without ever sacrificing her reality. It’s sometimes uncomfortably difficult to argue with Dagmar’s twisted logic that she’s caring about a problem no one else wants to deal with. Von Horn staunchly refuses to speculate on her motivations beyond those she shares with the people who catch up with her, and Dyrholm is as confident a seller of these apparent justifications as anyone can be.

Sonne also deserves credit for accompanying Karoline’s journey through ups and downs. Karoline doesn’t exactly open the film as a wide-eyed dreamer, but Sun lets us feel the true pull of her naive hope, so we’re just as devastated as she is when it collapses again.

Von Horn has earned his platform The girl with the needle, and there’s a lot of award potential in his film. It is also the director’s third film in a new language – Dutch – after working in Swedish (The hereafter) and Polish (Sweat). Given his outstanding filmmaking skills, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to imagine that a future project in English could take him to ever larger stages. However, von Horn is a masterful talent in every language, and The girl with the needle is a clear and beguiling triumph.

Title: The girl with the needle
Festival: Cannes (competition)
Director-screenwriter: Magnus von Horn
Pour: Vic Carmen Sonne, Trine Dyrholm
Sales agent: The match factory
Duration: 1 hour 55 minutes

Sharing Is Caring:

Leave a Comment