One thing I find kind of refreshing about Copenhagen is that, although there’s a huge age gap between the two main love interests (and his interest in her actually, legally, makes him a pedophile), at least it acknowledges that this is wrong.
William (Gethin Anthony) is an immature 28-year-old, while Effy (Frederikke Dahl Hansen) is a very mature 14-year-old. William is in Copenhagen searching for his absentee grandfather, to give him a letter his deceased father wrote him as a child. Effy is a very accommodating local intrigued by the mystery and adventure of finding him. It’s not long before there are romantic sparks.
There was an article a few months back on Word & Film, after the release of Woody Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight, that focused on its odd choice of romantic leads (Colin Firth is twenty-eight years older than Emma Stone). It then went on to discuss Hollywood’s strange lack of concern for such disparity – in fact, the article pointed out, it seems to be the norm in onscreen romantic pairings.
In this case, William and Effy are “only” fourteen years apart, but that’s twice her age (since she’s fourteen) – so she’s also illegal.
Is this where the boundary lies? Is it okay for the romantic leads to be thirty-two years apart (Liam Neeson and Olivia Wilde in Third Person), just as long as she’s reached the age of majority? In An Education, the age difference was a problem (because she was underage), but in Lost in Translation it was not (she was old enough to be married – which was the actual problem, but I digress).
Copenhagen is a well-made indie film – from first time feature filmmaker Mark Raso – with very believable and natural performances from its leads. It makes the viewer question their own ethics when, in true romantic fashion, things start to get hot and heavy between the leads. Swept up in the archetype of the story, you might want the two characters to get together, but knowing Effy’s age you also don’t, because you know it’s wrong. It’s a very, very uncomfortable feeling, which is exactly what we’re supposed to feel.
There are so many coming-of-age stories for men in their late-twenties to mid-thirties now, but at least this film has the vagina to show that the twenty-eight-year-old dude in question is actually behaving like a fourteen-year-old – which is when his coming-of-age should have happened. It’s when he realizes this that he finally becomes less of a dick and starts to grow up.
Copenhagen shows a lot of promise for everyone involved.