Nicolas Winding Refn`s second feature film after the tour-de-force gangster story that was "Pusher", is a rather different, though no less provocative affair.
"Bleeder" from 1999, is more of a stylised social drama which re-unites the leading cast members from the previous film, this time as a group of friends who hang-out around the local video store getting together to watch crime/martial-arts movies. The main characters are Leo and Lenny played by Bodnia and Mikkelsen respectively; the drama centres around Leo`s reaction to his partner`s announcement that she is pregnant - something the immature, gloomy underachiever Leo is not prepared for, resulting in violent and destructive outbursts, eventually bringing him into conflict with Louis, his partner`s volatile and ever-so-slightly psychotic brother.
A gentler, amusing sub-plot is the tentative relationship between the socially inept film-geek Lenny and bookworm waitress Lea; on the surface she seems to inhabit a different intellectual world, but at one point, Lea asks the bookstore owner for books by Hubert Selby which suggests their tastes in subject matter may well be very compatible.
This is another slice of the low-end side of life in Denmark; no-one here is involved in crime with the possible exception of Louis, although it's never made clear just what Leo`s work is - he certainly has one dodgy connection.There are some nasty racist scenes involving Louis and the violence - when it comes - is all the more shocking for its unexpectedness - especially the scenes of domestic violence. It's a tragic story, but with some very funny moments. There's a subtle subtext about cinema and storytelling threaded within this film that I can`t quite pin down, but in many ways it's a memorable and thought-provoking work - it's certainly stayed with me long after viewing, which leads me to recommend it highly.
Don`t expect another Pusher, it hasn't the intensity of that film's race-against-time, crime-world setting; this is a bleak but rather moving little drama dealing with relationships - predominantly viewed from a male perspective, escapism and how characters cope - or fail to cope - in a shabby, mundane world.