Reviews

The Idiots

4

Written and directed by Danish film-maker Lars Von Trier (The Kingdom, Breaking The Waves), and produced according to the puritanical tenets of the Dogma 95 collective, The Idiots has at last been awarded a certificate by the BBFC. Ignore the furore about the group orgy scene; this is a work of genuine originality which, like Thomas Vinterberg's recent Festen, demonstrates how the Dogma rules can prove creatively liberating.

Virtually plotless, the narrative focuses on a group of middle-class people who live in an empty house on the outskirts of Copenhagen and get their kicks by pretending to be mentally handicapped. On their visits to the outside world they get in touch with their "inner idiots" by collectively "spassing out". But the stakes are tragically raised when commune leader Stoffer (Jens Albinus) dares the others to be idiots in their everyday lives away from the commune.

Filmed with handheld cameras and featuring largely improvised performances, The Idiots makes for troubling viewing, inducing a mixture of laughter, discomfort and sadness. Through it all, Von Trier undermines our notions of what is normal, satirises bourgeois attitudes towards the handicapped and questions the behaviour of his perverse protagonists, building to the most despairing of final scenes.

Film Details

  • 18
  • UK Theatrical Release Date: May 14th 1999

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