Dennis (2007) is a short Danish film, directed by Mads Matthiesen, which chronicles a competitive bodybuilder (played by Kim Kold) in search of love and independence. It presents a stereotypical image of the bodybuilder as insecure, that is, as someone who retreats to the physical as an escape from psychological ‘weakness’ or subjection, the building of the exterior as a façade to protect and obscure an inner lack. For Dennis, bodybuilding is his arena for growth, in multiple senses of the word. Bodybuilding is his avenue for autonomy.
Yet, the viewer witnesses a new representation of the bodybuilder as well; the shy, loyal, and caring bodybuilder. Dennis is a loving and devoted son (tragically, in a distorted oedipal sense) who lack(ed)(s) a father figure, and thus clings tightly onto the relationship with his emasculating mother, who is manipulative and cruel, and displays her own pathological issues.
Dennis is a gentle soul who is seeking love, but is unsuccessful and finds only more people who objectify him, his body, and his sport. This beautifully made short film addresses a complex composite of one fictitious bodybuilder, underscoring the individuality of the psychological composite of the bodybuilder.