Family and friends gather to celebrate the 60th birthday of a wealthy patriarch: after the eldest son, invited to offer a few words in tribute to his recently deceased sister, starts making increasingly serious 'jokes' about his father's horrendously abusive treatment of the family, tensions mount until all hell breaks loose. Played mostly as black anti-bourgeois comedy, this is thoroughly entertaining but rather less outrageous, substantial and original than it thinks it is; imagine Buñuel making a foray into the world of Fanny and Alexander, edited by someone determined to impress the younger members of the audience (the style, dictated partly by the back-to-basics 'Dogma 95' manifesto, is somewhat tricksy), and you're almost there. Reservations apart, however, it's an assured, admirably abrasive little movie which never outstays its welcome.
Cast and crew
Thomas Vinterberg, Mogens Rukov
Henning Moritzen Ulrich Thomsen Thomas Bo Larsen Paprika Steen Birthe Neumann
I love Dogme films and this is one of the best. Paprika Steen and Ulrich Thomsen are phenomenal. The unity of time and place, hand-held camera and magnificent performances make it feel like a stage play. Indeed, it somehow reminded me of a Hamlet version by Ingmar Bergman I once saw in Florence. In my experience, in film and on stage, Scandinavians seem to be able to convey raw emotions with more power and effect than others.