Q&A with Nils Malmros

In this film about the life of his wife before she met him, a character based on Malmros is only a secondary presence. Pain of Love gives us scenes from the life of Kirsten (Tanja Skov), covering her childhood and teenage years to early adulthood. How she discovers sex and men; how one guy after the other turns out to be a disappointment; how her life slowly becomes a hell of depression and despair. Kirsten's life is closely—but not too closely—modeled on that of Malmros’s wife, making Pain of Love a kind of prequel or counterpart to Sorrow and Joy. Here, many of the experiences and dilemmas Sorrow and Joy only allude to are examined in detail. And while Sorrow and Joy finds a way to end on a note of unquiet grace, Pain of Love is a descent into the abyss. Kirsten's sense of loneliness, inadequacy, and insignificance in a world that seems so demanding and vast is simply crushing. One of the most devastating, exhilarating, enlightening experiences within Malmros’s oeuvre.

Read more about the films of Nils Malmros over at Film Comment.