Here is a topic that does not often take center stage in American films: suicide. However, the Danish film Exit Plan (previously Suicide Tourist, or Selvmordsturisten) centers around a suicidal man and a creepy hotel that specializes in assisted suicide. On the surface, the hotel could be relief for terminally ill patrons, but they have a huge flaw about which they are honest: they do not allow for you to change your mind between check in and “check out”. This intriguing dramatic mystery unfolds, albeit slowly, while dabbling with perceptions of reality until you are not quite sure what has happened.
Max Isaksen (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau; Game of Thrones) is an insurance claims investigator investigating the disappearance of Arthur Dinesen (Anders Mossling), whose wife would like closure by having him declared dead. Max has recently received a terminal diagnosis from his doctor and has become suicidal, though he cannot quite commit even in the face of the potential hardships that await him. Arthur’s case leads Max to the clandestine Hotel Aurora, a facility that specializes in assisted suicide. After Max checks in and starts planning his death, he again questions his commitment, but now it may be too late.
The story jumps around from the hotel to Max’s life leading up to the hotel, wherein we see him working, performing some mental exercises, collapsing at work, learning of his illness, and unconvincingly attempting suicide. All of this does help to understand Max’s mental state, but I probably would not recommend it to an impatient audience. The pacing picks up toward the end when Max tries to flee from the hotel and resume his life. By that point, it is possible his illness is causing hallucinations and it gets tough to tell what, if anything, is real.
This movie undoubtedly will tug on some emotions and give the audience something about which to think and debate. What is real? What was the meaning of the ending? When is suicide acceptable? All fair topics for debate. Director Jonas Alexander Arnby and Writer Rasmus Birch, along with the talented cast, pulled together an interesting tapestry worth examining. A word of caution in case it matters, there are subtitles for the non-English dialogue (both Danish and English are spoken throughout the film).