I Am Dina

I caught this Norwegian costume drama at a Scandinavian Film Festival in Los Angeles, where I was trying to get back to my roots and looking forward to hearing some Norwegian for a couple of hours. To my surprise, the film is entirely in English.

Presumably the producers believed it would be easier to sell the film internationally if it was in English – a decision surely designed to offset the costs of production, as I am Dina is thus far the most expensive Scandinavian production ever. (Its budget, a whopping $20 million, is about as much as Adam Sandler makes per picture.)

Desperate to make its money back, I Am Dina positively screams "Art House", perhaps too loudly. You've got your nudity, your crisp period detail, your sweeping landscapes, your pseudo-feminist politics, even your Gerard Depardieu. But I put this film in that box labeled "Contemporary Eurotrash Cinema" – not the exploitative cheese of yore, but the slick, overproduced, empty-headed, bombastic multinational garbage of today, like Brotherhood of the Wolf or The Fifth Element.

The plot, if you're interested, follows our eponymous 19th century heroine (decently embodied by Maria Bonnevie) throughout her melodramatic life – from childhood (where she accidentally kills her mother in a horrific lye accident!) through her troubled adulthood – and the mostly worthless men she romances (including Depardieu, who shows off his bare bottom, and Christopher Eccleston, putting on a phony Russian accent). During all this nonsense, Dina has copious amounts of sex, plays the cello a lot, intermittently loses her mind, and outsmarts the fellas from time to time.

It's ironic that I Am Dina will probably never see a proper American theatrical release due to its being in English. Were it in Norwegian, it might at least have appealed to the subtitle-friendly art house crowd. Not that the story would be interesting in any tongue. Nice cinematography, though.