It's a mystery how Peter Schonau Fog manages to combine child abuse, a study of a rural community, affecting tragedy and black comedy into a satisfying whole, but in "The Art of Crying" he pulls it off. A gently offbeat study of a Jutland family in the early 1970s as seen through the merciless, innocent gaze of an 11 year-old boy, this refreshingly unconventional pic tackles its taboos with
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

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Review in Festival Daily

The Domestic Horror
(Auto-translation by Babelfish)

Although it begins almost with an air of amiable comedy, it is not exempt of certain touches of surrealism and with a narration by a child who momentarily reminds us of the television series Cuéntame cómo pasó, immediately arises all the drama of this film, the abuses, the incest, the deceit. It is indeed a story of abuses without blows, without apparent violence, but buried, the violence of deceit, the emotional blackmail, the constant threat of a suicide that never comes. And there is something strange, because this mixture of the absurd and horror, of comedy and domestic tragedy, creates contradictions in the spectator who does not know whether to hate the paedophile and incestuous father or to feel sorry for a poor man. This is the same dilemma that all of the characters of this remarkable film face, Danish cinema removed from the classic form of the Dogma movement that lately seemed to dominate all Danish cinematography, although in its thematic core it is not distant from the excellent Celebration by Thomas Vinterberg. Nevertheless, in Celebration the adrenalin could be smelled from the beginning, harnessed possibly by the aesthetic principles of the Dogma, whereas here everything goes more slowly. In Vinterberg's film it was difficult to feel compassion for most of his prepotent characters, whereas here it is impossible not to see everyone as losers beyond salvation, losers whose only mistake was to be born in a nuclear family where it was assumed that the pater familias has the right to do as he pleases. And it is this which The Art of Crying - excellent title - brings attention to, another part is the lack of conscience which they have for the victims they are abusing, the absence of protests on the part of a mother who seems not to want to find out what happens in her own home, or even the fatality with which the chavales seem to accept their destiny provided the poor father does not begin to cry and threatens to commit suicide again. The Art of Crying elegantly combines its formal classicism with the courage of the denunciation of practices of patriarcal domination that are not exclusive to Denmark nor to the Seventies. It is a film that somehow camouflages the hardness of the subject by portraying the characters as more amiable, and it would be possible to be debated at length if this approach to the subject helps to disguise the gravity of the facts that it reflects, or, on the contrary, it emphasizes it. M.B.