Open Hearts (Elsker Dig For Evigt)


Open Hearts (Elsker Dig For Evigt)

Critics Consensus

Pulsing with honesty, this film lays bare the rawness of human emotion with a story made all the more believable thanks to its gritty, low-budget approach.



Total Count: 57


Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,237
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Movie Info

Two people are brought together by a tragic accident in this emotional drama. Joachim (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) and Cecilie (Sonja Richter) are a couple in Copenhagen who've fallen deeply in love and have made plans to marry. One day, Joachim is severely injured in an auto accident when he's struck by a woman named Marie (Paprika Steen), leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. As fate would have it, the doctor put in charge of Joachim's care is Niels (Mads Mikkelsen), who happens to be Marie's husband. Joachim, deeply depressed since the accident, tells Cecilie to leave him and find someone else, but while she intends to stay with the man she loves, she finds it increasingly difficult to deal with his mood swings and frequent anger. Meanwhile, Marie, wracked with guilt over the accident, asks her husband to look after Cecilie, and as they spend more and more time together, they find themselves becoming increasingly attracted. Eventually, Cecilie and Niels become lovers, leaving them both to deal with their betrayal of the people they've sworn to stand by. Filmed following the austere guidelines of the Dogma 95 movement, Open Hearts received its North American premier at the 2002 Toronto Film Festival and was screened in competition at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival.


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Critic Reviews for Open Hearts (Elsker Dig For Evigt)

All Critics (57) | Top Critics (20) | Fresh (54) | Rotten (3)

Audience Reviews for Open Hearts (Elsker Dig For Evigt)

  • Sep 05, 2014
    Featuring one of the best improvised slaps to the cheek in cinema history(?), Susanne Bier, famous for her Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award of <i>In a Better World</i> (2010), and prolific writer and director Anders Thomas Jensen, who won an Acadey Award as well for his bold satyrical commentary on racism in <i>Valgaften</i> (1999), <i>Elsker dig for evigt</i> (approximately translated as "Love You Forever") is a powerful melodrama about love and mixed up relationships. Think of the Dogme 95 style meeting Michael Winterbottom's early minimalist melodrama and the topics of a Rohmer's Moral Tale. The result might sound as a rare mixture but, if analyzed correctly, all those three elements have pretty much many things in common. When thinking of this film, I think of that mixture and realize that such combination was a good idea for contemporary cinema. I have said it hundreds of times and I shall repeat it again: men cannot have the artistic sensibility of a woman. Bier displays events from a neutral point of view and, under Jensen's writing, orchestrates the conditions necessary for making everybody to suffer, whether they had it coming or not, but with a purpose of personal learning or growth. Joachim becomes a character meant to make us reflect on the extent to which we can sympathize with a hateable person despite his horrific circumstances. He is an invitation for the viewer to be able to comprehend the suffering of others, but without justifying a self-destructive attitude that backfires on others as well. Cecilie is a rather idealized depiction of the woman with a broken heart and her resulting conflict to define the term "love" properly, organizing her feelings in the process. My main issue is that she is one of the main characters, and yet does not show any real transformation. She is left like this tender, idealized embodiment of internal conflict. Even if the ending suggested a change, her acting didn't mirror that. Niels, played by the awesome and now famous Mads Mikkelsen, is a man showcasing this awfully difficult trade-off between professionalism, unfaithfulness and being a family man. Oh yes, it's the same story being told for the 700th time, but it is about how you retell the same story, and not about telling a new story. His character shows complexity between layers of empathy and calmness, hidden behind a doctor's robe and his seemingly friendly bespectacled physiognomy. His transformation is probably the most important (and impressively delivered) of them all. Although it starts with clichés flourishing everywhere and an increasing red alert of melodrama and sensationalism, Bier and co. utilize the preceding events for giving them a unique turn under the subtle and invasive lens of the Dogme 95 rules and prepares valuable lessons for everybody involved, no matter how unfair they might seem, because that's life. Although, again, whatever happened to Cecilie internally is completely lost to me. Her character is the biggest flaw of a very talented and powerful melodramatic film. 83/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Aug 19, 2012
    Well, being a married woman I found this film very disheartening. What exactly was the point of all that heartache? I guess I would have preferred to have a storyline with some resolution somewhere. The end of this film was just ungratifying. No wrapping up of loose ends. Everyone was just ruined at the end, and she just drifted away aimlessly. On top of that, it was 2 hrs of watching her go back and forth between men. Not exactly exciting. This is the kind of slow, artsy type of film that critics love to love. Me not always so much...
    Cynthia S Super Reviewer
  • Jan 15, 2011
    Late influence of Dogma 95. The Dogma certification in the opening credits had a strange effect on me, as going against the movement itself. Dogma 95 manifesto is very interesting, but it's reflection on contemporary cinema and on film as art and not illusion are not new (Italian neo-realism, cinéma vérité) as it's not only avoiding technical manipulations that we will be able to reach the "naked cinema". Most background music are definitely an artifice to manipulate spectator - I won't mention visual effects, let's keep it simple - but in the same way we can find truth beyond technique, we can be duped by so-called reality (how true can a documentary be?). "Elsker dig for evigt" can follow almost every rule of the manifesto, but it is still a fiction that will "work" on our emotional as any other film would. When "Le scaphandre et le papillon" and "Mar Adentro" focus more on the patient's vision, "Elsker dig for evigt" focus on how the paralysis affects other's life, on Cecilie's journey through her pain. Pay attention on the opening scene, final credits and song that goes together: "lighting is not acceptable, optical work and filters are forbidden". Was that supposed to work as a contradiction to reality or they are just there? "Music must not be used unless it occurs within the scene being filmed". And the song that plays when Cecile is sleeping in the hospital with Nikolaj, for example? If "reality" is one of its strong points - in lot of scenes, the lack of "superficial" acting let it more superficial as iit'd be in a play - "reality" had been better explored by names as Andy Warhol (Eat, Sleep, Kiss, etc ), John Cassavetes and Abbas Kiarostami, just to mention some, no matter if they shot in digital video or on film or if they used or not well-known technical devices. </br> </br>
    Rubia Super Reviewer
  • May 05, 2009
    I loved the story. It's beautiful, touching, human and above all it's real. The characters are real human beings who need love and comfort and attention and someone who listens to them, take care of them, or just hold them? All the actors delivered excellent performances. The script, as usual, is the key here. also the dialog that has kept the movie interesting. The people come off as humans engaged in the difficult situations of life. Cecillia for seducing a married man in order to feel wanted, and Niels for caving to his mid life urges at the cost of his family. I was not used to dogma movies, but this one seems to work for me.
    Daisy M Super Reviewer

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