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The Idiots Screenshot

My first reaction upon watching this was this realization that I had never really associated von Trier with having a sense of humor! I mean, this film is just laughoutloud funny in parts. That starting sequence in the restaurant is a great opening to the film. Initially, I had no idea what to make of it. I wasn’t quite sure what was going on and the sense of surprise once they get out of the restaurant was just so charming and disarming that I was quite ready to go along with whatever craziness the film was upto. And craziness doesn’t even really begin to describe what happens next.

I think what really gets me about the film is that most of the time I wasn’t at all sure how I’m supposed to be feeling. There were so many moments that are so ridiculously hilarious (Waterloo! and the ad agency scene for instance) but then these scenes are also funny at someone’s expense which made a little it uncomfortable. Secondly, even through these funny parts, there is something so provocative about what these people are doing that one can’t laugh without wondering if the joke’s really on us after all. In a way, I think the joke’s on everyone in this film. The film simultaneously seems to skewer the establishment that the Idiots in the film are trying to rebel against as well as the Idiots themselves.

I felt this duality (or multiplicity even) of tone through most of the film. The orgy scene for instance, feels disturbing, funny, banal even in some ways but then we suddenly move upstairs and see Jeppe with that girl and that entire sequence is so innocent and sweet and stands in such contrast to everything else that’s going on around the house.

The best part of the film for me started off with Karen’s speech when the family is about to break up. The whole idea of a ‘found’ family breaking up in that way and the realization that an ideology that seems so simple and seductive (to the members at least) cannot really survive was just so affecting. And then we have all of these scenes in Karen’s house and those came as a complete shock to me. The film just gained so much poignancy and weight in those final few minutes. The way the camera closes in on Karen’s face and we see her lips trembling, unable to bear to sit there even a moment longer – all just totally devastating. I was also left wondering just how much of the film was scripted vs. just happened to take place around the camera. For instance, all the stuff in Karen’s house?

Ultimately, the film managed to make me laugh, cringe, shed a tear and just feel completely uncomfortable and hypocritical and yet be engaging throughout. Pretty darn amazing!

Pan-Card: B+

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