Cecilie (Sonja Richter) and Joachim (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) are about to get married when a freak car accident leaves Joachim disabled, throwing their lives into a spin. The driver of the other car, Marie (Paprika Steen) and her family don’t get off lightly, either. Her husband Niels (Mads Mikkelsen), works in the hospital where he meets Cecilie and falls madly in love with her, much to the scorn of his teenage daughter, Stine (Stine Bjerregaard). While Joachim nurses his anger impotently, Cecilie and Niels have to decide whether to give up everything for this new love.
 

4
The brilliant performances and the camera style convey an intense reality which empower this drama.

The films of Danish Dogme 95 are films about the here and now, told in as honest a way as possible. The latest is Susanne Bier's Open Hearts. Joachim, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, and Cecilie, Sonja Richter, are in love. They've just become engaged. But tragedy strikes. Joachim is hit by a car driven by Marie, Paprika Steen, and paralysed from the neck down. Marie's husband Niels, Mads Mikkelsen, is a doctor working at the hospital where Joachim is being tended. Marie feels enormous guilt about what happened, she encourages Niels to lend his support to Cecilie and Joachim, who in the depths of anger and bitterness rejects his fiancee, who turns to Niels for comfort.

This intimate drama about decent people caught up in the aftermath of a shocking tragedy is tremendously powerful. It has been so well performed by some of Denmark's most distinguished actors, with Sonja Richter making a solid debut. They all bring an intense reality to their characters. The screenplay which was written by Anders Thomas Jensen from a story by the director Susanne Bier is excellent, it's not sentimental, it's not sensational, it's real. Bier, working under the Dogme rules of hand-held camera with available light has necessarily had to compromise the look of the film. But the emotions are so powerful, the characters so empathetic that the visuals are secondary.