At the end of May, the screening of the debut feature film by the Danish director Caroline Lyngby, “Superposition”, in the Russian adaptation – “Escape Illusion” started in Russia.
For the first time the film was presented to the audience on January 27, 2023 at the 52nd International Film Festival in Rotterdam (International Film Festival Rotterdam).
The themes announced in the teaser will seem ordinary to any modern viewer, perhaps even hackneyed – scenes of a quiet family life flow through screamers into a “frightening” thriller. However, despite the seeming superficiality of the picture, under the guise of one of the massively replicated pass-through works, a non-standard family psychological thriller with elements of horror is hidden. And the supernatural component of the film serves only as a tool for constructing the main mise-en-scene – the wrong side of married life.
The main characters are a married couple from Copenhagen and their five-year-old son. Tate (Mikkel Boe Völsgaard) is a radio host looking to launch his new project, a podcast about his family’s life in total isolation in a Swedish forest. It is this experiment that forms the plot.
However, after a while it becomes clear to us that the relationship of the spouses is far from being as unambiguous as it might seem at first glance. Moreover, perhaps the only thing that unites them besides love for their son is mutual resentment. Such a cold attitude is only reinforced by the gloomy and muted landscapes of the forest, which occupy a significant proportion of screen time.
The most acute dissatisfaction with each other manifests itself after changes in the behavior of Nemo (Milo Olsen) – the boy cries a lot and refuses to recognize Stine (Maria Bach Hansen), saying that she is not his mother. Also, the situation is heated up by inexplicable events witnessed by the spouses. So, on the opposite, supposedly empty, bank of the river, Stine and Tate notice people, and in the forest the heroine sees a woman who has suddenly disappeared.
But the final realization that someone mysterious and dangerous lives in the neighborhood comes to Tate when he discovers all the letters with his audio recordings sent to the editor, in their original form in the mailbox. Even more questions are raised by the presence of similar records with barely noticeable changes, although such dialogues did not occur between the spouses during the period of residence in isolation.
After discovering the letters, the man decides to stop the project and take the family back to the city, but it turns out to be not so easy – that’s when the plot begins to gain momentum and the supernatural component is fully revealed. The main plot twist is predictable and even demonstrated in the trailer, but nevertheless Karoline Lyngby manages to show the concept of doubles in a non-trivial way, using it to reveal the main theme of her picture.
The meaning of the film
Analyzing the meaning of the film, first of all it is worth referring to its title, and in the original – “Superposition”. The term “superposition” is found in many sciences – geology, physics, psychology, etc. And in the literal sense, it means the imposition of one object on top of another. But since The Illusion of Escape is a psychological thriller, it is worth considering the meaning of the title from the point of view of psychology.
A person throughout his existence is constantly changing, forming a unique version of himself in each specific period. But if you compare, superimpose similar images on each other, you get something similar to parallel universes in quantum physics. Thus, superposition means the imposition and mutual influence of various states and positions of people …
So in “Superposition”, the characters of Marie Bach Hansen and Mikkel Boe Völsgaard are forced to face other selves that exist at different times. And in order to resolve the existing disagreements and omissions, each of them must overcome the worst in himself, leaving a weaker and more limited double, mired in the phobias and fears of the spouses, in that forest. Only by such radical measures, according to Lyngby, is it possible for the development of the human personality and the formation of a new self.
Characteristics of heroes
The relationship of the characters throughout the film only heats up until they reach their peak. And truly each of the characters reveals himself when faced with his own alter ego.
So, Stine sees a more confident and successful, at first glance, copy of himself. Although after Tate’s betrayal, the heroes managed to save the family, but secretly the woman continued to hold a grudge against her husband, not only for betrayal and lies, but also for the failed career of a writer.
And now, having seen her subpersonality, she has to notice that the version of her that managed to achieve a divorce feels much more confident, and works much more productively. But is she really happy?
Tate, on the other hand, is the opposite of his extremely honest wife; for him, correcting the information given out is a necessary part of the job. But this is precisely what becomes one of the stumbling blocks in his relationship with his wife, and in the universe of twins he will have to see himself capable of honesty and sincerity for the sake of a loved one.
But even by the end of the film, neither the viewer nor the characters will know the reasons for the overlapping of spaces that have arisen, at some point even Stine and Tate stop wondering where their subpersonalities came from. Also, the ending does not give an unambiguous answer about what exactly happened to Nemo’s double, which is why the psychological component of the picture stops working, leaving only the stuffing of an average thriller. It can be assumed that this is precisely what caused the average ratings of viewers.