Christian E. Christiansen, director of euro-thriller ID:A, may have had in mind Godard’s oft-cited comment that to make a movie all you need is a girl and a gun. He may have had in mind, too, the premise of the first of the Bourne series, since his film begins with a girl, a gun, a bag full of cash and a protagonist who has no memory.
She (Tuva Novotny) recovers consciousness and finds herself lying in a river. Having soon established that she is probably Danish since she can best understand the Danish guide books in the picturesque French village where she first seeks shelter, she decides to head to Copenhagen in order to discover her identity. Christiansen’s film begins at a pace: sinister figures are as keen to find our protagonist as she is to find herself and are in pursuit from early on. The film affords us certain generic pleasures – the moody lighting and swift editing, the amnesiac lead character, the political intrigue (a news item that she sees in a bar which reports the local murder of a politician is not without significance), but Christiansen forgets that what most determines the success of the amnesiac thriller is the protagonist’s failure to remember. This is what makes the The Bourne Identity (2002) so entertaining, Christopher Nolan’s Memento (2000) so gripping, and what has underpinned the many other films (from Hitchcock’s Spellbound  to Lynch’s Mulholland Drive ) made over the years.
(The following paragraph contains spoilers) Revealing too much, too early would be acceptable if the premise were not ludicrous. The self-named Aliena discovers that she is in fact Ida, wife of Just, a celebrated Danish tenor, who is not overjoyed to see his wife (and not because of her Bourne-style makeover, the DIY bob haircut). Just, played by Flemming Enevold, who some may recognise from Ole Christian Madsen’s slick resistance thriller, Flame and Citron, is someone you would want to forget. But he is not just a wife beater, which detail alone might have sustained the film, he is also the head of a Communist terrorist group (we know they are terrorists because they drive a white van; we know they are Communists because they say they are). All this is revealed at the point of near death when Just is strangling his wife. The long flashback sequence fills the gaps in Ida’s memory, not just about her psychopathic husband but also about her gay, lapsed Communist terrorist brother (Carsten Bjørnlund) whose boyfriend was the French politician discovered murdered at the beginning of the film.
ID:A may generate some attention because of the long held interest in fugue state protagonists and the recent vogue for Scandinavian television thrillers, whose intricate plots are often carefully developed over many episodes. The photography is crisp and the editing fast, however the film is so overblown, the plot so fanciful that you can’t help but think that Christiansen’s film would have been better if the plot had stuck to just a girl and a gun.