Home > Movies, Reviews (Movies) > [Review] Festen (The Celebration) (Vinterberg, 1998)

[Review] Festen (The Celebration) (Vinterberg, 1998)

Dogme ultimately became a mistake. It was a failed attempt to invert the way that cinema functions. However, in Festen, the first incarnation of these rules, the restrictions energize and compliment the infinitely complex frenzy that is family.

As long as the audience is not fooled by their attempt to render “realism,” an impossible gesture, it is possible to uncover masterful filmmaking. The ensemble of players is marvelous. Vinterberg charges each of them with a unique and potent electricity. Their interactions are dense with explosive chemistry and human suspense. Many circumstances are analogous to watching someone fall. You watch it happening, time seems to slow down, and you helplessly cringe when some of the pain is transferred.

The subject matter is not silly in the least, but the labyrinthine events of the story sometimes seem facile and, because of the Dogme rules, falser than false reality. The installed irony does not play well, but is ultimately faces redemption in a successful piece of footage.

Regardless of any criticism, it is hard to deny that Festen harnesses a visceral energy that is rarely created in cinema. Must be seen as the best example of the Dogme experiment.


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