The Lost Ones / De Vildfarne

Warm and endearing, The Lost Ones is a new Danish film from production company DK Fiction that provides an intimate look into the lives of several characters around the city of Copenhagen. Central to these characters is the eccentric, white-bearded Rolf, who has turned his back on his family and chosen to live in a Copenhagen park. He spends his days looking through garbage cans and pushing a pram, all with a lukewarm beer to keep him company. Originally from Sweden, Rolf now tries to deny any ties to the neighbouring country; instead evoking a sense of optimism and spirit to anyone who crosses his path. And as such, throughout the film we are introduced to a series of secondary characters who, in one way or another, find themselves meet Rolf and having to confront their past. As they do, the history of Rolf is slowly revealed.

The beauty of this film is how the balance is established between our mysterious messiah Rolf and the characters he interacts with. They are typical lonely, very Danish individuals and there is a certain warmth that is established through their otherwise mundane lives. It makes these seemingly hostile characters feel approachable and likeable, even despite their faults. We meet characters like Helle, who stole money from her work, Helle’s daughter, who is suffering from depression, and a boy called Palle, who lost both his parents in a car accident. These characters are all connected through Rolf, who helps them in one way or another, seemingly at the cost of his own life. But The Lost Ones is not just a drama; there are some true comedic elements in this film. Rolf is not just the centre of reason, but he is the funniest character in the film. Many of his funny lines come from his continuous defence of him being Swedish, something that must be taboo in Denmark.

While the narrative is strong, the aesthetics of the film are simple and sometimes rather low-budget. The lack of style and lower quality filmmaking can deter audiences, but this film is not about beautiful shots so much as it is about the story. The narrative overpowers any aesthetic faults and is what this film needs to be seen as. The characters feel like real people, created with such a strong sense of detail. For international audiences, they’ll enjoy the ‘realness’ of Copenhagen; certain parts recognisable to those who’ve travelled to the capital. In that sense, it is a film about Copenhagen and its inhabitants. With that, it will do well at international film festivals.

The film is directed by Dariusz Steiness, who has previously directed Charlie Butterfly. Steiness digs deep into what makes these characters ‘tick’ or function, and he spends enough time with each character to allow us to get to know them, a real feat for a film with several secondary characters. Watching the film, it feels like he has a true love for Copenhagen and everyone who inhabitants. This really adds to the feel of the film and makes The Lost One a treat for anyone who gets to see it at a film festival.

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Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.