Art of Crying a Minor Masterpiece
THE ART OF CRYING was my second film at the Toronto International Film Festival. I’ve seen three, seven to go. I want to start with this one because it absolutely blew me away. It’s perhaps an unfair comparison, but afterwards I really felt like watching the Lasse Hallstrom film, MY LIFE AS A DOG. Peter Schonau Fog’s first feature has a darker subject matter and doesn’t have the same moments of pure joy the Hallstrom film gave us, but like MY LIFE AS A DOG, THE ART OF CRYING feels true and honest to the viewer. We are given a look at life inside the home of a rural Danish family during the seventies. A family where life has gone horribly wrong. It begins at a place we all have been in one way or another. Big brother is coming home from the university for a weekend. There are hugs and kisses and good natured teasing. During dinner Mom fusses over him. And then the movie turns. Dad, played brilliantly by vetern Dane Jesper Asholt, rips into his son for holding his fork in his left hand. The son tells his dad this is how it’s done in the rest of the world, fork in left hand, knife in right. Around the table everyone has only their fork in hand, in their right. Dad doesn’t let it go at this and accuses him of being fancy, then begins complaining that he wasn’t allowed an education. It is not this that frightens us, but how quiet the rest of the family becomes. Living in foxholes they have learned to keep their heads down.
There are a few small stolen moments of bliss for the two children, both first time actors to my knowledge, both wonderful to watch. The movie is in fact told largely from the point of view of the boy, played by Jannik Lorenzen. He is young, and younger than he would be today in a world of the internet and television. He doesn’t know, not at the beginning, even what his life is about. At times I felt angry with this little boy, how can you not know. But that’s the point, he doesn’t. He learns, the hard way. The girl, who looked much older in her fancy gown at the premiere made my heart hurt, old enough to know and understand, but not old enough to know what to do about it, Julie Kolbech is an actress to watch in the coming years.
Not the easiest film to watch because of it’s honesty and realism. This is a brilliant beginning for a director who will surely have a long and respected career. Bravo! Rated r, this gets 8* out of 10.
Notes from a Festival: Day Four
My back hurts, my legs are tingling. Seven heavy duty movies in four days, and really, three days since the first was nine pm Friday, and the seventh three pm monday. I ran into an old friend, he works for the festival and has worked the Tribecca, Sundance, and other smaller festivals. He’s up to 37 films already. He works a couple each morning, then they run movies all night for the industry guys and he sits and watches those. I mentioned how much I liked ART OF CRYING and his face got all funny. Like a junkie he speeded off five better movies and how that one was missing something. I agreed, noting it was a first film. My friends hit a little festival fever. He’s seeing so many movies so quickly that he’s not giving them time to sink in. ART OF CRYING is a very subtle film that takes a lot of effort to watch. You have to try and imagine what it would be like to be a child growing up in rural Denmark in the 70’s. As luck would have it I grew up in rural Northern Ontario in the 1970’s. Two channels on a black and white television. I didn’t know a lot about a lot of things. As soon as I remembered this a lot of the film made sense to me. That took some effort on my part. Effort I wouldn’t have energy to give if it had been my 20th movie in three days.
compassion, grace and wit. Jonathan Holland, Variety
Emotionally devastating and astonishingly mature, this is a unique feature debut. Steve Gravestock, Toronto International Filmfestival
A young Scandinavian genius tackles Bergmanesque themes of family taboos and relationships with pathos, humor, and a loving eye. Chiseko Tanaka, Tokyo International Film Festival
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Art of Crying a Minor Masterpiece