The Celebration

The Celebration

directed by Thomas Vinterberg

Danish; subtitled

Christian, Kaspar, and the rest of patriarch Helge’s clan converge at the Baronial estate to celebrate his 60th birthday and family reunion.

There’s only one down note — sister Linda’s recent suicide. And Christian’s morbid depression. And Kaspar’s alcoholic abuse of his wife and kids. And sister Helene’s inappropriate American boyfriend. And grandpa’s losing his mind. Other than that, it’s a blast until Christian takes the opportunity to propose a toast to his father’s long career of pederasty with him and his ex-sister. He takes care to repeat this several times, despite Kaspar’s efforts to drag him out and beat him senseless. Christian’s a trooper, I’ll give him that. Finally, it’s Helene’s turn, and she toasts the gathering with Linda’s suicide note. Even uber-mama Elsa can’t recover from that little faux pas, and drunk Kaspar finds daddy and takes a few good swipes. Daddy confesses to one and all next morning, then has the good grace to make a permanent exit so everyone can enjoy breakfast and hangovers in peace and quiet.

One doesn’t typically associate “Danish” and “dysfunctional,” but those staid Norsemen have just as many skeletons in the cheese house as any daytime telly denizen. They just don’t have a satellite distribution deal, that’s all. They do have a lot of sex — now I think everyone is in slightly the wrong bed, but they take care not to enjoy it if possible. I’m not sure what drives the Danes. Maybe it’s the pickled herring.

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