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Festen (1998)

Director:
Thomas Vinterberg
INTERNATIONAL TITLE
The Celebration
COUNTRY
Denmark
GENRE
Drama
NORWEGIAN TITLE
Festen
RUNNING TIME
105 minutes
Producer:
Birgitte Hald
Morten Kaufmann
Screenwriter:
Thomas Vinterberg
Mogens Rukov


Cast includes:

CHARACTER ACTOR/ACTRESS RATING
Christian Ulrich Thomasen
Helge, the father Henning Moritzen
Michael, the brother Thomas Bo Larsen
Helene, the sister Paprika Steen
Else, the mother Birthe Neumann
Pia Trine Dyrholm

 

Review

It's dysfunctionality gone dysfunctional in this early Danish Dogme 95 style film by Thomas Vinterberg. An upper-class family reunite for the father's 60th birthday, not long after one of his daughters committed suicide. And during the elegant dinner, eldest son Christian (Ulrich Thomsen) gives a public speech in which he accuses his father of having sexually abused him and his siblings during their youth. Like Christian, Vinterberg wants to shock his audience, and he probably does. But the two have more in common; they both lack the elegance and context to make their respective audiences believe in them and really care about them. The film's crude style and seemingly chaotic denoument may well have the intention of mirroring the characters' chaotic state of mind and bring them close; make them more authentic and real. But Vinterberg's cold, sometimes farcical observations of them make them all seem pathetic and irrelevant instead. And there's not much authentic about how the other guests at the party react - they seem to be there just to prolong the suffering, for both us and the protagonist. Contrary to what it might at first seem like, Festen does not handle or discuss sexual abuse in a serious manner, it simply uses it for effect.

Copyright 22.11.2013 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang

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