The Call (Film Review)

Ad based films are the cause of much debate. Many believe that their nature as advertisements render them artistically bankrupt. Yet some of them display a level of craft some films could only dream of. They also afford a level of creative control to their directors that is a real attraction to some disillusioned Hollywood talent. They allow them the time and space to make their film with minimum control and branding.

Just look at Spike Jonze’s film, funded by Absolute Vodka, I’m Here. It’s a romance between two robots that look like they were created out of things found on a scrap heap. The design was original and had a handmade feel, the animation made them look more human than the androids usually propping up Hollywood rom-coms, and the story was heart-breakingly tragic. But even more importantly the Absolute Vodka branding was almost non-existent. They gave him the money to make the film he wanted with no stifling of his creative vision and for only a mention of their product in the pre film credits.

Similarly The Call is a well-made film with a simple story that is only invaded by minimal branding. Granted, you realise at the end that the film has been advertising the services of BoConcept throughout, but it isn’t something that stops it from being entertaining.

The film consists of Mads Mikkelsen (for all intents and purposes playing himself) taking home a young actress to rehearse some lines. He effortlessly seduces her but keeps getting distracted by a phone call that steadily causes her to grow enraged with frustration.

The film starts with a piece of god awful overacting. Alarm bells immediately start to ring. Fortunately this is how they establish that they are actors, and that one is more experienced than the other. It also exposes the film as a comedy. For all its stylishness, the fact that it is primarily a humorous film could pass you by. The sexual tension, so thick throughout the film can also make you forget the films comedic routes, but it exists primarily to be relieved not through passion, but through humour.

The rising temperature of the obviously smitten actress and the easy charisma of Mikkelsen damn near steams the camera lens. But that only means that the intruding call cuts through it with the abrasiveness of a buzz saw. It slowly and expertly builds the tension to an unbearable high when it finally pulls the punchline they’ve been leading to. The chemistry between the two leads is electrifying and the girl (Malin Buska) is so intense and fiery you can feel her heat coming off the screen.

It’s a joke film, and I don’t mean that in a demeaning sense. Every good joke has a narrative and this films existence is owed to telling this one. Also, it may have been conceived as an advert for a furniture seller (as expected, the set design is stylishly immaculate) but it seems more like an advert for Mikkelsen’s abilities as a seducer than anything else.