2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Great acting, touching film ... slow ...,
This review is from: Teddy Bear (DVD)
Dennis (Kim Kold) is a bodybuilder in his late thirties who still lives at home with his domineering mother, Ingrid (Elsebeth Steentoft). Despite his size, Dennis is meek and shy, and desperately lonely. So when a relative brings home a "mail-order bride" from Thailand, Dennis is motivated to make his own pilgrimage. And Dennis does find love, even if not quite where he expected.
Until "Teddy Bear", I don't think I'd ever seen a serious, respectful portrayal of a bodybuilder in a non-documentary film. Dennis is an extremely sympathetic character, and Kold, the real-life 2006 Danish National Bodybuilding Champion, is wonderful: amazingly stoic yet capable of conveying joy or heartbreak with just subtle shifts in his facial expression. Dennis' happiness is infectious in the few scenes that take place in the gym, the only place he's truly comfortable. And you root for Dennis to find the same fulfillment in the rest of his life.
But I still found "Teddy Bear" to be hard going. It sits squarely in the genre of modern indie films that shun forward momentum in favor of awkward pauses and long, drawn-out moments of silent contemplation. In the abstract, I appreciate the naturalism, but I confess to being a product of my sound-bite generation. Even with Kold's outstanding performance, if not for the bodybuilding subject matter, I would have turned this off long before the 92-minute running time was over.
That being said, "Teddy Bear" is actually an expansion of "Dennis", a 2007 short about the same character, from the same director and also starring Kold. The short has all the depressing parts of "Teddy Bear" without any of the uplift. It also shares the same glacial pace and outstanding acting. Happily, it's available to view on YouTube; if you enjoy "Dennis", you'll almost certainly enjoy "Teddy Bear" as well.