Kira's Reason: A Love Story

  • 2002
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

An unvarnished look at the emotional havoc that ensues when middle-class housewife Kira (Stine Stengade) returns home after a lengthy stay in a mental hospital, anchored by devastating performances. Kira hasn't been home an hour before she's accusing the bewildered housekeeper of sleeping with her husband, Mads (Lars Mikkelsen) — who's actually been...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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An unvarnished look at the emotional havoc that ensues when middle-class housewife Kira (Stine Stengade) returns home after a lengthy stay in a mental hospital, anchored by devastating performances. Kira hasn't been home an hour before she's accusing the bewildered housekeeper of sleeping with her husband, Mads (Lars Mikkelsen) — who's actually been having an affair with Kira's sister, Charlotte (Camilla Bendix) — and his welcome-home party throws her into a tailspin. The following day, a trip to the public pool with their two small sons ends in disaster: Flouting the rules, Kira joins the boys in splashing around the children's pool, frightening the other youngsters and prompting the lifeguards to intervene. Kira refuses to get out and resists their attempts to remove her with such manic violence that both Mads and the police are summoned. She drowns her restlessness in alcohol and winds up on an all-night bender that ends in a strange man's bed; again, Mads must collect Kira. Director/co-writer Ole Christian Madsen's portrait of a deteriorating marriage in which husband and wife love each other not wisely but too well was made according to austere Dogme 95 principles (it's the 21st Dogma film to date), giving it an unpolished look that mirrors the characters' emotional rawness. The film parcels out information about Kira and Mads almost entirely through dialogue, resisting pop-psychological prattle — terms like "co-dependent," "enabler" and "dysfunctional family" are conspicuous by their absence — and allowing the actors to inhabit characters who are painfully contradictory, frustrating, flawed, vulnerable and bound to each other. Kira's desperate neediness is off-putting but clearly rooted in her brittle sense of inadequacy; her vivaciousness, which must once have been alluring, now has a frightening edge. Mads is devoted to material success (he's the first in his family to own a house) and neglects his home life for work, but he also puts up with Kira's antics in the apparent hope that the woman he married will some day return from the grip of madness. A late-night visit to Kira's father (Sven Wolter) speaks volumes about her insecurities and instability — he abandoned his family because he couldn't deal with his wife's emotional outbursts — without laying the blame for her troubles at his feet. It also foreshadows an ambiguous ending whose superficially hopeful air is undermined by the darker suspicion that Kira is dragging Mads into the thicket of her tortured derangement.

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  • Released: 2002
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: An unvarnished look at the emotional havoc that ensues when middle-class housewife Kira (Stine Stengade) returns home after a lengthy stay in a mental hospital, anchored by devastating performances. Kira hasn't been home an hour before she's accusing the b… (more)

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