Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Idiots

Idioterne; drama, Denmark, 1998; D: Lars von Trier, S: Jens Albinus, Bodil Jorgensen, Anne Louise Hassing

Karen meets two supposedly mentally handicapped men in a restaurant and goes to the car with them. She discovers that they are not handicapped at all, but normal people who just feign retardation in order to see the reaction of the environment. Karen joins their group, "Idiots", led by Stoffer, and plays a mentally handicapped as well. The "Idiots" visit a factory, public bathing resort and neighborhoods. But when really disabled people are invited, Stoffer reacts with repulsion. After member Josephine is taken away by her father, the group starts to fall apart. Karen starts pretending to be disabled in front of their parents, but gets slapped.

After his breakthrough film "Breaking the Waves", director Lars von Trier made the second film in his Dogme 95 movement, "Idiots", that already signalled the flaws and saturation of raw style of the above mentioned movement, since it did not manage to compensate for a pointless concept, even though it has a few brilliant and well made moments. The story of a group of normal people who pretend to be disabled in order to get the attention and special care of the people around them, is distorted and almost obscene, and von Trier is not able to make a great movie out of that no matter how he tries, nor is he afraid to shock the audience with the sequence of the group sex in a few explicit takes, but he does show the hypocrisy of the group members who at first comically claim that "to be or to play an idiot is a luxury! The idiot is the man of the future!", just to react very nervously and negatively when they encounter real disabled people. The movie is serious as a drama, however. The dispersion of characters and, finally, a lack of a point left the movie a step back from "Breaking the Waves".


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