Teddy Bear Mads Matthiesen

Teddy Bear Mads Matthiesen
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In 2007 short film Dennis, which is also included with the DVD release of Teddy Bear, the titular, introverted bodybuilder (Kim Kold) tries to go out on a date despite his clinging mother's (Elsebeth Steentoft) objections. Her diminutive stature is juxtaposed with his imposing muscular frame ironically, with him cowering to her will and using his gargantuan physical persona as a means to cope with his intense insecurities. This short, much like the feature film, has a touching vein of introspection and humanity, where fears of abandonment and rejection force people into unhealthy physical and emotional corners that require intense overcompensation for the ego to survive. In Teddy Bear, Dennis tries to escape the well-intentioned, but emotionally manipulative clutches of his mother by going to Thailand to find a wife. His cousin brought one home from there, which gives the 38-year-old bodybuilder hope that he'll be able to find his first girlfriend. Trouble is, he lies to his mother, saying he's going to Dusseldorf for a bodybuilding competition. Once there, his perception of romance is sullied by the overt prostitution and superficiality of his potential sexual and romantic partners. Still, he meets Toi (Lamaiporn Hougaard), a widowed gym owner, and tries to build some sort of connection with a member of the opposite sex that isn't his mother. Though director Mads Matthiesen has a knack for capturing awkward moments and uses deliberate pacing to his advantage, the one major flaw in Teddy Bear is the development of this relationship. In part, the lack of chemistry between the two actors is a problem, but it's the clumsy, almost forced connection of the pair that makes the emotional core of the story somewhat problematic. Of course, when Dennis gets home and confronts his unstable mother, the quiet moments and off-camera rage pack the necessary punch for Teddy Bear to work as a memorable and ultimately moving character piece. What's more is that Dennis, who seems to be happy and comfortable only when flexing in front of the mirror with other men, is actually drawn as an identifiable, even pitiable character, despite his behemoth frame. This in itself is quite a feat. Also included with the DVD is Matthiesen's other short film, Cathrine, wherein an overweight 16-year-old girl falls for a much older guy and is unable to see the relationship for what it is. (Film Movement)