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Tuesday, March 28, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 120


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New film Mifune holds no punches


Mifune

Sony Pictures Classics
Starring: Anders W. Berthelsen, Iben Hjejle, Jesper Asholt, Emil Tarding
MPAA Rating : R

Grade A-


By Andrew Sandoval
Daily Cougar Staff

Directed and written by Soren Kragh-Jacobsen, Mifune combines dark humor and passion to show how a group of misfits change their lives. The result is an unusual and enjoyable film that never apologizes for anything. 

Mifune introduces four characters who struggle to find the family they never had. The film shares similarities with Kragh-Jacobsen's previous film Celebration. In both films, the characters have to deal with their past in order to find a better existence. The authority figures in both films are either absent or are monsters. 

Both films use handheld cameras, and any kind of artificiality is avoided at all times. Kragh-Jacobsen doesn't use any artificial set lights or props brought from outside the set.

Kragh-Jacobsen films (The Celebration, Mifune, The Idiots) have a distinctive, original visual style that makes the films more accessible to the audience. Once again, Kragh-Jacobsen has an interesting story to tell. The Celebration and Mifune don't hide the weirdness of their characters.

The future is very promising for Kresten (Anders W. Berthelsen) and Claire (Sofie Gråbøl). They just got married, and Kresten has a place in Claire's father's firm. After their first night of marriage, Kresten receives a call and is informed that his father has just died. Claire has a difficult time dealing with the call because her husband had never before the existence of his father. He tells his wife that he has to go away for a few days to take care of the funeral. 

Kresten decides to stay for more than a couple of days on his father's farm. He quickly realizes how difficult it is to take care of the place and his mentally handicapped brother Rud (Jesper Asholt), so he tries to hire someone to do that for him. 

Kresten's jaw drops when the beautiful Liva (Iben Hjejle) applies in person for the position.

Liva becomes a housekeeper because she is tired of working as an escort in Copenhagen. She constantly receives obscene phone calls and her pimp beats her up. 

The brothers become completely dependent on Liva. Rud follows Liva everywhere, and Kresten very ineptly tries to win her over. These scenes are very entertaining, and for the time being the three characters have left their painful pasts behind. Liva enjoys the attention of the two misfits and everything seems very harmless. 

After Claire appears on the farm, she realizes that Liva is the reason why Kresten never returned home. Claire returns to the city very upset and determined to end the marriage. 

Once Liva is used to her new life, she calls for her younger brother, Bjarke (Emil Tarding), who is having disciplinary problems at school. The adolescent is a spoiled brat who can be very cruel, especially to those he loves.

The comedy once again turns into a drama after Kresten has his way with Liva. Even if his actions cannot be justified, Kresten is not necessarily a bad person. In many regards, the characters are very pathetic. The brothers cannot take care of themselves, and Liva has to work as an escort to support her brother. 

Mifune is a successful, sincere film that doesn't hold anything back. Even if the characters hurt each other constantly and do terrible things to each other, they are also lovable characters. Somehow, their good intentions and desire for a better life outweighs their faults and ineptitude.
 

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