Review: Miss Viborg

Written and directed by Marianne Blicher, co-written by Rasmus Birch, in a small Danish town, we meet two generations of women. 61-year-old Solvej and the 17-year-old, Kate. Their meeting kickstarts an unlikely friendship, as the wounds of the past are revealed and the seeds of hope are sown. Starring: Ragnhild Kaasgaard, Isabella Møller Hansen, Kristian Halken and Josephine Park.

Unlikely friendships are always a great basis for a story, seeing two people bring out the best in one another and connect with someone in a moment of loneliness is relentlessly enjoyable. Miss Viborg is another fabulous addition to that genre, it builds their friendship gradually to give a more natural feel. There’s a wonderful pacing to the film, allowing you to actually get to know its characters rather than simply throwing them together. Marianne Blicher and Rasmus Birch’s writing is funny, entertaining and has a great awkward touch to keep things grounded, it’s not always smooth sailing. The only major issue is with its ending, it’s highly predictable and out of nowhere takes a dive into the deep end of sentimentality and almost undoes all of the stellar work until that point. It’s such a shame to see it end on such a by the book note when it had created its own individual personality and charm.

A lot of that charm comes from the performances, starting with Ragnhild Kaasgaard’s Solvej, she’s perfectly stubborn. She’s not mean, she’s resigned to her loneliness and insecurity so she walls herself off until Kate (Isabella Møller Hansen) comes along. Underneath that self-punishing attitude is a huge strength, she’s a fiercely independent and capable woman. Hansen as Kate then pairs that with an unearned youthful confidence that’s primed to be knocked down at any minute. She’s in need of a guiding, consistent presence in her life and surprisingly to both of them Solvej fills that role. There’s an immaturity to Kate in her desire for independence but as time goes on you see the compassion and generous side to her. The two of them together fit like jigsaw pieces, each giving the other what they need and vastly improving their lives, Kaasgaard and Hansen’s performances portray that with an extremely endearing presence and a particularly satisfying chemistry.

Visually, it’s focused on the everyday element but there’s also a lightness to it that elevates the atmosphere. The feel of its aesthetic fits Miss Viborg’s sense of humour, it has a touch of the playful but also holds onto a sadness. By doing so it helps it stay grounded, it doesn’t become silly or too adventure like so that their friendship and antics still feel real. Striking that right tone of comedy meets drama is a big part of why the film works so well. It has a wily edge to it, in the fact that these aren’t cookie cutter characters, they’re flawed but lovely and Marianne Blicher’s direction connects perfectly with that idea.

Miss Viborg is a terrifically entertaining and funny adventure of an unlikely friendship. The way that the story moves feels satisfyingly organic and it creates two fantastic characters. The chemistry between Ragnhild Kaasgaard and Isabella Møller Hansen is a lot of fun to watch and even more so when Kristian Halken gets thrown into the mix. It’s a great time but it lets itself down really badly with its ending, going so saccharine and undercutting the rest of the film which hits completely the wrong note. It’s such a shame to not see it go out with the bang that it deserved.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10

Reviewed as part of Glasgow Film Festival 2023

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