Two film makers with a pedigree in quality Danish television combined to make A Matter of Trust (2022), a beguiling film of five short stories set over a Denmark summer day.
Maren Louise Kähne was screenwriter on The Bridge (2013), the much copied TV series about a dismembered body being found on the bridge linking Sweden and Denmark. Half of the corpse is on each country’s border making investigative responsibility and management even more difficult.
Annette K. Olesen directed episodes of Borgen (2010), a political tale of intrigue which preempts other western societies in the influence of environmentally-conscious politicians and the lessening power of traditional parties unable to form government after elections.
Both are worth seeking out. The plots, characters and writing are excellent.
In A Matter of Trust, all the above is evident.
The short stories, each with a different author, are connected only in that trust is the main theme. Mislaid trust; trust in government action; trust of a parent and of a teacher; and trust that your partner’s past has no influence on the person you love without needing to know that past.
The only other theme threading through the stories is amber and I have tried to introduce some connection into each of the five.
Amber is a resin and a gemstone with a spiritual meaning of protection given to travellers to keep them safe on long journeys.
This is certainly evident in three of the stories in which:
- A little girl (Ellen Rovsing Knudsen) with a curious black eye is being led along a nearly deserted beach by her mother
- Deported Afghanis, in a government-chartered flight, are being returned to their “homeland”
- A teenage schoolboy (Emil Aron Dorph), struggling with his sexuality and embarrassed by his friend’s exposure of a candid photo of the boy to most of his school, accepts a lift from one of his teachers.
Amber is also the middle globe in traffic lights (referred to as yellow in many Google references as if the modern person cannot cope with a colour so obscure?).
According to a UK traffic control website, an amber light is: “A cautionary indicator or signal; specifically (a) a warning of likely difficulties ahead, requiring heightened caution or vigilance; (b) qualified or tacit permission to proceed in a particular course of action.”
4. To the married man (Jakob Cedegren) who has booked an Air BnB to engage in an unfaithful tryst with a woman he has met at a conference.
5. A young married couple (Sofie Juul Blinkenberg and Morten Hee Andersen) walking to the funeral of a woman named Amber, to whom the man in the relationship has a back story, never revealed to the viewer.
The clue to this theme occurs in 1. when the mother hides her daughter from a passing 4WD and shows her a piece of amber to take her mind off what is happening. Amber is amplified with the name of the deceased in 5.
During all five stories, elements of trust abound, even to the point in 4. when the man, on the way to the country-based Air BnB, stops to buy vegetables at an unmanned stall. Requiring cash only and with money left in a tin by previous shoppers, he hasn’t enough coin to pay for the goods. He drives off under-paying. The camera stays on the stall and his car re-emerges from out of shot. He returns one of the items.
To tell more of the plots would ruin the curiosity factor of what happens next so I will merely highlight a couple of scenes which impacted on this reviewer.
In 1. when the little girl, suspecting her mother has not consulted her father about their journey, has the chance to run to a passing stranger, she declines. Is it trust for the mother, who is running a bath at the beach cottage they have entered?
When the mother, with an apparent history of violence, closes the bathroom door it provides the viewer with a tantalising conundrum: is she about to drown her daughter or merely make her clean and warm for bed?
In 2. the government-appointee doctor (Trine Dyrholm) has to administer insulin to a diabetic teenage deportee. The girl is indifferent to the doctor but eventually reveals she has lived in Denmark since a child and is more Danish than Afghani. Is she represented as amber by being in the middle and less important than the red or green lights?
The doctor can only answer that her government probably thinks it is doing the right thing by sending the girl “home”.
In 4. the very annoying Air BnB owner unknowingly pesters the couple each time the man is about to reach coitus.
A Matter of Trust is a good film.