8/10
A powerful and effectively well made film
1 April 2000
Warning: Spoilers
Having already seen The Idiots I was looking forward to watching this other film from the Dogme stable. It has similarities. It deals with a controversial subject in child abuse, and looks and sounds similar. The film is set in a huge house, where there is a family gathering to celebrate the father's sixtieth birthday. His children he has not seen for a long time start to arrive, along with other relatives. The first one we see is Christian, his eldest son, a quiet but troubled man. He is walking down a desolate road on his way to the house, and is passed by a car with his younger brother Michael, his wife, and three children in it. The car stops and they greet each other, then Michael throws his wife and kids out and tells them to walk the rest of the way. This is our first glimpse at Michael's crudeness. He turns out to be a bigoted ruffian. The other main character is their sister Helene, who has a coloured boyfriend. This causes problems later when he arrives, and he is racially insulted by Michael, who also conducts a racist song by all the guests. There is always a troubling menace underneath the surface of this film. The scene where Christian gives his first speech sets the tone of the film, and leaves us to ponder. We also learn another sister committed suicide, and left a revealing note, which Helene reads out late in the film. It is always fascinating to watch. Very powerful stuff once again from the Dogme stable. It certainly has its unique and effective style, and always keeps the viewer watching. Superb film making.
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