Projections - Movie Reviews

Mifune Mifune

Mifune is the third film from the Danish Dogma collective whereby a vow of chastity must be taken under a ten commandments bylaw system.  However, director Soren Kragh-Jacobsen admits in the press notes that he committed one real breach of the Dogma code, the rest moral transgressions.  Yet, this acclaimed film fits the handheld camera shooting for the instant to coerce a cinema verite from the settings and the characters.  While Kragh-Jacobsen's collaborative on a script with Anders Thomas Jensen doesn't make the story as intriguing as its technical, documentary-like style, it still maintains a genuine realism from its locations and actors who make their presence felt in a dark "dramedy" drawn from a Japanese masterpiece featuring the great actor Toshiro Mifune who died in 1997.

Kragh-Jacobsen's lead character, Kresten (Anders W. Berthelsen) is reminiscent of Mifune in The Seven Samuri as Kresten has a past that he regrets, one of meek conditions, that he would rather not talk about.  And his yuppie from Copenhagen compares with the samuri and he appears on top of the world as he weds the boss' daughter.

But one can tell that though his wedding night was memorable, the look on his face is the foreshadowing of the drastic change ensuing with the death of his father.  Wife Claire (Sofie Grabol), at first a lively new bride, wonders about Kresten, since he told her along with everyone else that he has no living relatives.

Mifune for a while begins to echo Rain Man, as Kresten's mentally retarded older brother, Rud (Jesper Asholt) lives at his dad's farm where all the livestock have died and hasn't been tended to in 10 years.  Having handled his father's funeral arrangements, Kresten stays at the farm to care for Rud, and he pleases his brother during the sad times as the alien-curious Rud is wide-eyed as Kresten apes Mifune from The Seven Samurai, which was part of the fun of their childhood.

Kragh-Jacobsen adds to the increasing atmosphere of secrets and lies with the introduction of an attractive call girl named Liva (Iben Hjejle) who is being stalked on the phone.  Kresten's place is a wreck so Live, who made a mess with a wealthy client, answers his misleading ad for a housekeeper, as she initially is happy to be away from her pimp and stalker while in the city, but the antics of Rud, who calls her Linda, drives her nuts.

Things get more serious when Claire finds Liva living with them and Liva's rude, obnoxious brother Bjarke (Emil Tarding), kicked out of boarding school, comes in as their home is now a foursome.

The Dogma 35mm style, here not done with video, is effective as the proceedings have a brooding feel, even as the four happen to bond for a awhile.  But, something has to give, as Liva becomes livid and Kresten gets attacked on two occasions.  It's obvious that the truth has to break up in a way the gritty look and emotion that has been mounting for almost half of the running time.

Still, while its concept falls short of Thomas Vinterberg's The Celebration, this smaller family tale has an aura from its duplicitous underpinnings, and the sharply honest performances from Berthelsen and Hjejle.


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