Playing twenty questions with their son Nemo as they drive through the forest, writer Stine and journalist Teit will become accustomed to looking to within for answers over the coming year spent at a remote lakeside cabin where they will be entirely self-sufficient, she finding the peace to work on her debut novel and he running a podcast which will detail their retreat from Copenhagen and all modern civilisation and return to nature.
Supposedly isolated from all contact, Teit placing envelopes with the recordings on flash drives in a drop box, he is disturbed to realise none have been collected by his editor, and on a walk by the lake Stine sees strangers on the far shore then closer in the forest; asking Nemo to stay in place while she investigates he disobeys and disappears. Frantically searching, she finds him distressed, inconsolable, claiming Stine is not his mother.
Opening with a shot of a vertical horizon, the tops of the forest reflected and distorted in the water, for a moment it is clear which is real and which is the illusion, blurred and rippling, but in director Karoline Lyngbye’s Superposition, co-written with Mikkel Bak Sørensen, the delineation becomes increasing indistinct as Teit and Stine meet the strangers across the lake, doppelgängers who are searching for their missing son Nemo.
Their stated intention in their retreat to find their true selves, are these the skins they have shed seeking restoration, a hallucination caused by the mushrooms they have foraged from the forest, fairies taken human form who have replaced Nemo with a changeling child, or has some strange event brought about a quantum superposition of parallel dimensions, a pocket universe from which they cannot escape where the edges loop back on themselves and create reflections?
With Marie Bach Hansen and Mikkel Boe Følsgaard as Stine and Teit, they may have arrived with good intentions but their conceit is shortsighted, bringing all the existing problems of their marriage with them and unfair to Nemo (Mihlo Olsen), taking him away from all he knows, school and friends, then saying they cannot play with him because they are too busy; is it possible that their opposites could be better parents to their own child than they are?
The preamble to the encounter, confrontation and awkward truce between the couples overlong, Superposition improves in its second half, the initial “them and us” rivalry shifting unexpectedly as the Stines find common ground in their mutual disappointments, their frustration with the predisposition towards jealousy and anger of their husbands, but like the trapped characters Lyngbye sees no road out of the situation, a curiosity of dislocation and belonging which struggles to find its direction or destination.
The Edinburgh International Film Festival continues until Wednesday 23rd August