#250 Festen/The Celebration (1998, dir. Thomas Vinterberg) (Recommended)
Before this I kind of thought the whole Dogme95 movement thing was a bit of nonsense. A ‘vow of chastity’ really, who do these people think they are? But the way its principles (location filming, handheld cameras, no props, no superficial action etc) are utilised in this actually makes a lot of sense. Stripping everything back to its core elements makes this seem like a more pure and verite-style filmic exercise, and forces the dramatic material to stand for itself, of which it does. Vinterberg’s story of a son who announces repeatedly and shockingly his father’s childhood abuse of him and his sister in front of guests at a big gathering held in honour of said father certainly is gripping, challenging material, that swings between farce and horror at will. The ingenuity of the handheld camerawork on show, whilst sometimes a bit too showy, is nevertheless very impressive.
You can also see how Vinterberg and Lars Von Trier have influenced each other, elements of this being noticeable in Melancholia’s dinner party scenes. |