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Dublin International Film Festival 2020 Review - DITTE & LOUISE

ditte & louise review
A struggling actress impersonates a man to win a role in a Viking drama.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Niclas Bendixen

Starring: Ditte Hansen, Louise Mieritz, Lotte Andersen, Anders W. Berthelsen

ditte & louise poster

Ditte & Louise is a big screen spin-off from a sitcom of the same name, which proved a hit in its native Denmark over two seasons. The show chronicled the fortunes and misfortunes of Ditte (Ditte Hansen) and Louise (Louise Mieritz), a pair of forty-something actresses who find themselves left on the scrapheap and decide to form a comic double act.

ditte & louise review

In this feature film we find the titular duo touring the not so hotspots of provincial Denmark, performing to unappreciative crowds, living on a diet of service station food and engaging in casual sex with any men who will give them a second glance.

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After an unsuccessful audition for the plum film role of "aging hooker", Ditte spots an advert looking for a fortysomething male actor for a lead role in a Viking movie. Undeterred by the inconvenient matter of her gender, Ditte dons a fake beard, auditions for the role, and to her surprise, wins the part. But how long can she keep up the masquerade?

ditte & louise review

Of all the movies that might be subjected to a gender reversal, Tootsie seems one with much potential. It's no secret that actresses struggle to find roles once they hit a certain age, while their male counterparts can still be cast as romantic and action stars well into their fifties. In her disguise, Ditte is exposed to the double standards of the industry, shocked to learn she is paid considerably more than her established female co-star, despite her lack of experience.

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The trouble is, Ditte & Louise struggles to find a way to mine humour from this dynamic, instead opting for a level of toilet humour that is little more than a gender reversal of those awful sex comedies that were so popular in the 1980s. Those movies weren't funny when they starred men, and they're no wittier with women now in the lead roles. For a movie that purports to explore inequality, it's far too reliant on outdated gay panic gags, with Ditte becoming the object of affection for a male co-star who believes she's a man. Ditte's new male identity sees her become a lust object for several women, and it all gets very creepy when Ditte gives in to their desires - after all, those women believe they're making out with a man, and haven't consented to sex with a woman.

ditte & louise review

If you make a movie in which your lead character is a talented musician, you need to make sure the audience is convinced of their talent. Similarly, if your leads are comedians, they better make us laugh. Ditte and Louise spend much of the movie bemoaning the lack of recognition for their talents, but the glimpses we're given of their live act make it clear why they aren't packing out arenas. They're simply not funny.

A UK/ROI release has yet to be announced.

2020 movie reviews