The Celebration (Festen)

on October 07, 1998 by Ed Scheid
   Family and friends are celebrating the 60th birthday of Hekge (Henning Moritzen) at his estate. His eldest son Christian (Ulrich Thomsen) has returned home for the party, while the other son Michael (Thomas Bo Larson) shows up with his wife and family even though he was not invited. Adding to the tension, daughter Helene (Paprika Steen) is staying in the same room where her sister killed herself. Then, in his dinner speech, Christian makes some shocking revelations about his father and the party begins to unravel.
   Director Thomas Vinterberg's style of odd camera angles and constant movement is appropriate for the story of a family breaking apart. The cast is energetic but the characters' relationships proceed without much surprise. The revealed secrets seem routine because they are much too familiar subjects from numerous films and television programs.    Starring Ulrich Thomsen, Henning Moritzen and Thomas Bo Larson. Directed by Thomas Vinterberg. Written by Thomas Vinterberg and Mogens Rukov. Produced by Birgitte Hald. An October release. Drama. Danish-language; subtitled. Rated R for strong sexual content and language, including references to sexual abuse. Running time: 104 min. This "Celebration" is the first film from DOGMA 95, a collective of Danish film directors. Their rules include a hand-held camera, location shooting and no props not found at the location. In this case, the form is more interesting than the content.
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