Elena Arndt-Jensen, Kristian Halken, Ellen Hillings
Charlotte Sachs Bostrup
NR (Equiv. to PG)
"Karla's World" Review
It seems like each year, Indianapolis's Heartland Film Festival embraces one Christmas film. 2008 is no exception, with Denmark's Crystal Heart Award-winning film "Karla's World," the story of 10-year-old Karla (Elena Arndt-Jensen) and her struggles to keep her family together during Christmas, a not so easy task given that her parents are divorced, her birth dad's an alcoholic and her brother is just plain irritating. When Karla can't quite get her family to behave the way she believes they ought to, she runs away and befriends a local homeless man for a day of adventure that reminds her about the importance of family, true Christmas spirit and maybe, just maybe, her family isn't quite so different after all.
Filmed on location in Denmark, in Danish with English subtitles, "Karla's World" is a gentle, easygoing film featuring light performances by its ensemble cast. Superior to last year's Heartland Film Festival Christmas film, "Midnight Clear," (actually there were two, the animated "Christmas Is Here Again"), "Karla's World" works because of the winning performance of its lead, Elena Arndt-Jensen, in her feature film debut.
While "Karla's World" often feels like the sort of film you find on American television during the holidays, director Charlotte Sachs Bostrup ("Anja & Viktor") infuses it with a core of goodness and beautiful cinematography that would make it worth a view for American families seeking values-based cinema to add to the holiday tradition.
While the ensemble cast is strong, Paw Henriksen and Kristian Halken especially stand out among the film's supporting players.
Tech credits are quite solid, especially Jeppe Kaas' delightful original score and the song "Lille Svale," from Elisabeth Gjerluff Nielsen. The film's music adds just the right touch of spirit and tenderness to this heartwarming entry from Denmark for the 2008 Heartland Film Festival.
by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic