Mads Matthiesen’s Sundance-winner ‘Teddy Bear’, now on mubi, is a gently told male-emancipation story

Posted on January 16, 2021


teddy bear

Despite the “finding love” premise, this is not a rom-com. It’s more about a man trying to break free of psychological shackles, both self-imposed and mother-instilled.

Spoilers ahead…

The first image of Mads Matthiesen’s Danish short film, Dennis (2007), is that of a big man, a really big man, a hulk of a man sitting on his bed. Dennis (Kim Kold) is a bodybuilder: 6’7 feet tall, 308 pounds of raw muscle power. But in this opening moment, he’s at his most vulnerable. He has in his hands a piece of paper with the phone number of a woman named Patricia (Lykke Sand Michelsen). He wants to ask her out to dinner. When he calls her, he adds this bit: “I’ll pay, of course”!

Two things make us feel even more for Dennis, who is a total misfit outside the confines of his gym. First, the date. It goes pretty well, and then Patricia invites him to a house party with her friends. When they learn he is a professional bodybuilder and that he’s preparing for the Danish championships, they ask him to take his shirt off and show off his muscles. To be fair, they probably don’t mean any harm. They just want to see a bodybuilder strut his stuff. (It’s  not something that happens in your living room every day.) But there’s also the sense that they’re treating him like they’d treat a male stripper.

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