The Commune

Thomas Vinterberg’s broad, histrionic, blackly comedic social satire doesn’t work on any level

The Commune PosterIn what universe does Thomas Vinterberg’s “The Commune” make sense? The thinly drawn characters in this stagey, maudlin, histrionic dreck seem driven by pages that must’ve vanished from the script. They leap from broad character types to wild hippies in no time flat, act completely out of line and ultimately enable the film’s dirtbag protagonist to carry on an affair. Chalk it up to the lifestyles of those crazy Danes, I guess.

A nuclear family of a middle-aged couple, Erik and Anna, and their teenage daughter Freja, inherits a massive home too large for them to live in and maintain on their own, so they invite some old friends as roommates but agree to a communal arrangement. In preliminary interviews they reveal themselves as a square, a drifter, a burnout, a hippie and a strict mother with a dying toddler son, but before long they’re all laughing drunkenly and jumping into the ocean naked. Good times. Continue reading “The Commune”

The Hunt

Thomas Vinterberg’s “The Hunt” explores what it is to be a marked man. With Mads Mikkelsen.

How do you survive when you are a marked man? How do you convince someone who already has the answer they’re looking for? How do you overcome a label and a conviction that’s gone viral? How do you defend against something that cannot be proven and is already a given?

Those are the fundamental questions behind the powerful Danish drama “The Hunt.” A man is accused of pedophilia after a young girl gets upset with him and tells a white lie she can’t pull back. Immediately the world unravels around him and the word has been spoken. Thomas Vinterberg’s film is a practical examination of human nature in a not unlikely circumstance.

The poor soul at its center is Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen, best known to American audiences as Le Chiffre from “Casino Royale”), a loveable kindergarten aid and divorcee. His son Marcus (Lasse Fogelstrøm) begs to be with his father during Lucas’s custody battle, he’s got a new girlfriend in his colleague Nadja (Alexandra Rapaport), and his relationship with his best friend Theo (Thomas Bo Larsen) has never been stronger.

He’s got a good life, and everyone loves Lucas. But Theo’s youngest daughter Klara (Annika Wedderkopp) loves him just a little more. Lucas walks her home from kindergarten, helps her when she gets lost and lets her walk his dog Fanny. During playtime one afternoon, Klara innocently steals a kiss from Lucas and makes him a heart out of beads. He plays the parent and says she should give that kiss to one of the boys, but instead she gets angry and tells the teacher “Lucas is ugly and has a penis.” She then says Lucas’s stands up straight after she gets the wrong idea elsewhere, and Lucas’s fate is sealed. Continue reading “The Hunt”