Thursday, September 17, 2009

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

The Idiots(1998)
Directed By Lars Von Trier
I assumed a movie about a group of people pretending to be retarded for "kicks" would be an anarchic mess that would run it's course after about a half hour. Lars Von Trier's "The Idiots" however is an absorbing drama about a group of people who collectively begin rejecting sense and sensibility, but all for their own reasons. Some are just there to have a good time, other's are there for philosophical and political reasons, to some it's a grand experiment, an excuse to be naughty, to go off your meds for awhile, or to avoid their own fractured personal lives. The group becomes a commune of sorts, that exists happily until they are challenged by one of their own to "spazz" not just with strangers and in the confines of the group, but in their personal lives. The real world begins trickling back in and the Idiots are faced with their final spazz and separation. The Idiots is a film that can cut from a gang bang to a girl loosing her virginity to the boy of her dreams, perfectly capturing the sweet and tenderness of one scene as well as the sweating, grunting, absurdity of another. Anne Louise Hassing plays a woman who gets abducted into the group at random and decides to go with it, until her own real life reappears, and we realize that she more than any of them, has the best reasons to become an Idiot.Her reasons are ultimately tragic when she is the lone group member to hold fidelity to the project. Some people think this film is a satire of the “be yourself”/"get in touch with the inner more primal you” generation, and in part it is for some of the characters, but it’s certainly not or Hassing, and the young girl who loses her virginity. Regardless of the “hedonistic sham” of their surroundings, those two are involved for better and worse, in authentic experiences, a subtle distinction that Von Trier is clever enough to make. There’s a remarkable honesty and potency in this Dogma 95 film, shot without makeup, artificial lighting, or music. This is about as real as fiction cinema gets, without degenerating into reality TV, and though it sounds like a movie designed as "weird for weird’s sake”, it's deftly subtle and manages to make all of its characters and their otivations understandable conflicting forces in the film.From this babble of tongues all participating in mindlessness for their private reasons rises a collective truth of why most commune’s ultimately fail and how meaninglessness itself can at times, be of tremendous importance. One man's dirty joke is another man's epiphany, and this film in the end (the final scene) is a good bit of both.

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