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By Jeremy Mathews | January 19, 2007

In the age of videotape, anyone can turn themselves into a protagonist by flipping around their digital-video camera. At least, some people let themselves believe that’s the case. Christoffer Boe’s “Offscreen” is the antidote—a dark and disturbing satire about a man who becomes addicted to filming every moment of his life.

Danish actor Nicolas Bro plays a deranged version of himself, who, a series of newspaper shots inform us, has gone missing. Director Christoffer Boe, the reports say, vows to finish editing the actor’s film. As the narrative proper begins, we see that Boe in fact lent Bro the camera with which the film was made. Bro askd him to direct the project, and Boe tells him to shoot everything.

Nicolas wants to make a “love film” about his relationship with his wife, Lene Maria Christensen. They haven’t been on the best of terms lately, but the presence of the camera is supposed to turn it all around and make their lives like a movie. Of course, it only aggravates the situation. Lene leaves her husband with only two obsessions: his camera and herself.

Bro’s obsession quietly escalates. He gets a little handheld digital camera so he can get close-ups while he’s doing things—like acting—that can’t be done with a giant camera on your shoulder. It doesn’t, however, solve any of the problems and discomfort people have with his behavior. Eveyone else likes it, Bro insists whenever someone asks uncomfortably about the camera.

Boe and co-writer Knud Romer Jorgensen move what could have been a self-indulgent mess unpredictably as their star continues to lose his grasp on reality and find a way to make a satisfying story, even if it means recreating moments so to be more to his liking. As a director, Boe (“Reconstruction”), orchestrates his character’s masturbatory into compelling visuals with a combination of tight and awkward angles and different video formats.

Bro’s performance holds the film together, as he convincingly plays a man who can’t help but drive people away. Bro’s friends are also key—if they didn’t react properly, the film would crumble. But they look on, bemused, annoyed and frightened by this man whose behavior suggests that if he can’t have his romance, he will have to try out another genre.

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