Director: Anders Morgenthaler, Germany | Denmark
The happily married, middle-aged executive is desperate: yet another miscarriage, a dismal diagnose, and Peter’s (Sebastian Schipper) refutation. Inadvertently, she hears about a prostitution-cum-infant-market enclave on the Czech border. Maria’s (Kim Basinger) near-obsession for a child overrides everything: marriage, career, and common sense. Impulsively Maria sets off; en route, she befriends a panda-dressed diminutive junkie. Their mutually beneficial deal is terminated in lieu of a fix. But, area customs impede and burden Christian’s (Jordan Prentice) gratification, necessitating a cautiously conciliatory reunion with Maria. Unaware how perilous an act this is, until an arrant Russian (Peter Stormare) catches up and introduces them to his reality: a violent, brutal world.
Shot in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein, Danish director Anders Morgenthaler daringly augments this thriller with paranormal elements, albeit very different from the norm. A small cast delivers huge performances. The editing, music, special effects, and sound design compliment Sturla Brandth Grøvlen’s unique camerawork. Morgenthaler infuses wonderment and understanding—how desire for a child can supercede all else—into his screenplay. A natural extension perhaps for this comic artist and children’s books author, thereby bringing an absorbing, novel film to fruition.