In Copenhagen, writer-director Mark Raso's debut feature which opens this Friday in an exclusive engagement at the Capitol Theatre, a disaffected man-child type from New York City tries to track down his grandfather with the aid of a charming young local — extremely charming and extremely young, as it turns out.
Midway through the film, the Danish Effy (an instantly lovable Frederikke Dahl Hansen) admits that she is but 14 years old, and it's an unpleasant shock for both viewers and for the sex-crazed tourist William (Gethin Anthony, best known as the snotty Renley Baratheon on Game of Thrones), who presumed along with the rest of us that, whether or not he successfully found his gramps, he'd be getting some action from his chaperone.
William is already at his wits' end when he and Effy meet-cute in a Danish cafe. His best friend just ditched him for London to elope with a girlfriend of arguable merits. And Effy, who dives into William's genealogical tourism with the intensity and immediacy of a class project (in fact, she completed one last year), seems like the optimum romantic fit. Even William sees that she's the sort of partner who, by the force of her personality and insight, can help him extract his head from his ass, where it's been deeply lodged for some time.
Instead, she's 14, and William acknowledges for what seems like the first time that — and this is almost a direct paraphrase from the film's promotional materials — if the woman he falls for is half his age, it's high time he grows up.
But it's hard not to fall for her, what with her pink old-school point-and-shoot and her facility with the metaphor of Danish lore. William's violent refusal to admit how young she is mirrors our own because we're so bothered by the implications. The romance here is at times tender, and its tenderness is uncomfortable once we recognize that it's a signpost along a familiar romantic trajectory. The hunt for a long-absent patriarch is, in truth, an arbitrary framing device for that central investigation: taboo love.
Gethin Anthony often theatrically overplays William's malcontent — it's like he's not used to the camera — but Hansen is so quietly transfixing, so flirtatious and so innocent in perfect balance, that she trumps his blunders as character and actor.