Hot Docs 2016 Review: What He Did
One of the most creepy and most unsettling films of the festival, Danish film What He Did is a reasonable short affair, clocking in at just over an hour. In addition, it’s not really an edge of the seat affair, either. But when it is examined a little more closely, it is clear how effective the film is in presenting a moral dilemma and then not trying to solve it.
The film captures Jens Michael Schau, a Danish playwright suspected to have killed his boyfriend of thirteen years. The close-ups of an aged Schau, shown 25 years later mainly in his home are not truly engaging. But what is interesting is that Schau has allowed a stage play of the incident to commence production, and watching the rehearsals of the show, in which Schau and boyfriend Christian Kampmann meet and fall for each other is gut-wrenching.
Jonas Poher Rasmussen ratchets up the tension through news clips, play footage, and of course, through spoken interviews with Schau. But Schau clearly does not want to discuss “what he did”, making the title more than a little bit ironic.