Directed by Soren Kragh-Jacobsen
Starring Iben Hjejle, Anders W. Berthelsen, and Jesper Asholt; Danish, with subtitles
It’s Danish. It’s a screwball comedy. It has a manifesto. Well, they got one right. Kresten (Berthelsen) is on his honeymoon when his long lost dad dies. Off to Lolland, the Arkansas of Denmark, to deal with the body and the ruined estate and his loony brother, Rud (Asholt). Desperate for clean dishes, he hires Liva (Hjejle) as housekeeper. She’s a hooker on the lam from a psycho stalker, and needs a place to hang along with her dropout younger brother. Hi-jinks ahead? Naaah… just alcoholism, brutality, inbreeding, and lunacy. The creepy kind. Kresten gets divorced by the second reel, Rud wins the lottery, and Liva’s stalker turns out to be her shithead brother. Oh, yeah, Liva pees on a really expensive rug while beating a client senseless with a vacuum hose. That’s the Danes for you. Even their kinky sex is kinky.
Aw, heck, they’re all lovable losers, and I shouldn’t be so hard on them. Asholt as Rud does have a thing about crop circles and UFOs, but you like him, mostly because he’s someone else’s problem. Kresten does give up a cushy job and a sex-crazed bride at the drop of a hat to take care of his nutty brother, and Hjejle has the hooker with a heart of gold down pat. Anders Hove plays a strong supporting role as bachelor farmer neighbor Gerner, looking like Neil Young on a particularly bad day.
Filmmaker Kragh is part of the Dogme 95 group, a bunch of Danish filmmakers who have sworn off some obscure aspect of modern filmmaking – editing, lighting, script, I’m not clear on what exactly – in order to make intellectually pure films. Now, most modern films are written for merchandising to teenagers who can’t afford good drugs, but it’s not clear how Dogme overcomes that problem. But you know what they say in Denmark: “Life is a long turd, and you have to take a big bite every day.” I think it loses something in the translation, but it’s my Subtitle of the Year.