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Customer Review

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What about mother?, 8 Oct. 2009
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This review is from: Festen (10th Year Anniversary Edition) [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
A bit disappointed that one review of this film passed moderation so full of spoilers as to reveal the entire plot, but at least the film is good enough to continue to have an impact no matter how many times you have seen it. So knowing all the highlights of the story in advance is not a complete disaster; just blunts the incredible first coup de theatre a bit.

I try to limit myself to one viewing of this film a year and its power never diminishes; you just find new angles. Maybe that's some clue to its greatness, and I use the word advisedly. I have this small theory about films from 'minority' countries, in terms of the global film industry; countries that can more or less expect never to create a global box office hit. They accept their marginal status and make the films they want to, rather than the films they hope people will flock to. In any event, Scandinavia has a record of great film-making out of all proportion to its population, and this is the best I have seen by a margin. It raises endless questions and provides no answers. The very last shot is telling in that respect.

While the film appears to present a clear villain, what of the goodies? Who walks away untarnished? There was once an anti-mugging ad on the Hamburg underground railway. It translated as something like "This man was mugged by 15 people yesterday evening. 14 of them watched." Festen superficially invites a clear right:wrong distinction but any thought at all reveals an awful web of conspiracy, and only perhaps the long-haired waitress and the late arrival seem to have got their heads round it at all. Even the touching and sympathetic character of the chef; the anti-hero's oldest friend. What was he doing? And mother?

Depending on your family background, and the subject matter here is far more prevalent than many of us would care to admit, watching this film could be a traumatic experience. But it is a masterpiece of the film-maker's art and compelling viewing, however harrowing the story. Script, filming, story, cast of characters and acting are all outstanding. I'd buy two copies now, in case you make the mistake of lending it to someone.
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