'Teddy Bear' one of three Nordic Films showing at MoMA
explores the story of Dennis, a body builder who is quite shy and has trouble making conversation, especially with women.
Teddy Bear
Directed by Mads Matthiesen


Another strong Scandinavian film gaining attention on the world cinema scene is the marvelous, off beat Danish character study, "Teddy Bear." It’s a story about an enormous but shy 38-year-old bodybuilder's quest for love. A sweet tale that not only discovers the talent of Kim Kold but also that of the director Mads Mattiesen who won the prestigious prize as best director at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. There is no doubt you will see more from these talented men.


"Teddy Bear" smartly plays with the stereotypical image of masculinity—that a person with enormous muscles and expressive tattoos would automatically be macho. But main character Dennis is actually a painfully shy, introverted and sensitive man who lacks life experience, especially with women, where he is most awkward. Dennis has never had a girlfriend and lives with his tiny, emotionally manipulating mother outside Copenhagen. Their relationship is very close and very unhealthy. He would like to find true love, and when his uncle marries a woman from Thailand, he decides to try his own luck on a trip to Pattaya. Dennis takes his first real steps toward making his own decisions and standing on his own feet, but when his mother finds out she gets very upset.

This film is as a sort of a coming-of-age story of a man who never really had the strength to break free. Gently, as does the inner life of Dennis, the story unfolds with some comic elements and is peacefully straightforward with assured directing and only necessary dialog. Mattiesen ingeniously uses images of Dennis' giant body to emphasize the contradiction of his naïve yet calm personality and to show his alienation in life in general—everyone else looks petite next to him.

The rhythm of the film is paced equally to Dennis’ troubled and emotionally blocked self with an observational style. Dennis and his mother were previously introduced in the 2007 short film, "Dennis," which can be found on YouTube. "Teddy Bear" is a quiet charmer not to be missed.

by Niclas Goldberg
New Directors/New Films Screenings at MoMA - "Teddy Bear"
Thursday March 29, 6 p.m. at MoMA, Titus 1, 11 W 53 St., NYC 10019
Saturday March 31, 8:45 p.m. at Walter Reade Theater, 165 W 65 St, 4th Fl, NYC 10023

Official trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5ZseyEe0dQ

For more info on the MoMA festival, see New Directors, New Films 2012