Just Another Love Story, Ole Bomedal, 99 mins, (18)
The Proposal, Anne Fletcher, 107 mins, (12a)

There aren't many films which can pay explicit homage to the conventions of 1940s noir, while having enough popcorn-spilling jolts and credibly flawed human characters to feel fresh and contemporary. Ole Bornedal's Danish thriller,
Just Another Love Story, is one.

It stars Anders W Berthelsen as a crime-scene photographer who'd rather be capturing exotic landscapes for National Geographic. One day when he's out with his wife and children, his car stalls on a busy road, resulting in a pile-up that leaves a young woman (Rebecka Hemse) in a coma. Berthelsen visits her in hospital, only for her distraught relatives to mistake him for her boyfriend – not the first or last time that Just Another Love Story skates between film noir and black comedy.

The next twist comes when the woman wakes up, but has become partially blind and amnesiac. Berthelsen continues the deception, telling himself that he's assisting her recovery, but knowing that the stories he spins for her about their backpacking escapades are his own fantasies of a more adventurous life. But what really happened to Hemse before the car accident? And who's the mystery man with a bandaged face who patrols the hospital corridors in a wheelchair?

Just Another Love Story is both a moving depiction of a mid-life crisis and a mind-bending neo-noir that should be filed alongside Oldboy, Memento and The Last Seduction. More or less every scene has a nail-biting confrontation, an outlandish twist, some stylish editing or a burst of gory violence, but Bornedal never cheats. It's all integral to a plot which keeps one foot in everyday reality, however far the other foot dangles over a canyon of temptresses, multimillionaires, and diamond-smuggling gangsters.

The only flaw is that less-than-catchy title, which would have been more appropriate for The Proposal, a Sandra Bullock romcom which starts by imitating Green Card, The Devil Wears Prada, and Bullock's earlier vehicle, Two Weeks Notice, before changing direction and imitating Meet the Parents, New in Town and The Family Stone. Bullock is cast against type as a bitch-queen New York book editor, feared and loathed by everyone in her office. Ryan Reynolds is cast even further against type as her dogged Ugly Betty of an assistant. When Bullock's bosses inform her that she's about to be deported back to Canada, she claims that she's engaged to Reynolds, and he goes along with the fraud in return for a promotion. They couldn't possibly fall in love in a million years, you might think, but how wrong you would be.

Reynolds and Bullock are funny as long as they're surrounded by sceptical colleagues in the big city, but the comedy dissipates when they fly to Alaska for the weekend, and we have to wade through lots of syrupy pastoral scenes of Reynolds reconnecting with his goofy, prickly but oh-so-warm family. The film then deteriorates into a series of ever more desperate set pieces: Bullock rescuing a puppy from an eagle; Bullock watching a Cuban male stripper; Bullock trying to do a tribal chant and rapping instead; Bullock falling out of a speedboat. None of these incidents has any consequences, not even for the puppy.

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama

TV

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before