Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Family (2010)

A Family • En familie (2010)
A Family • En familie (2010)

Genre: Drama
Director: Pernille Fischer Christensen
Starring: Jesper Christensen, Anne Louise Hassing, Johan Philip Asbaek, Lene Maria Christensen
Duration: 102 min.
Rating: 7.0  

Ditte owns a gallery, has a loving boyfriend and her dream job in New York is within reach, but she is also the youngest generation of the famous Rheinwald bakery dynasty.  When her beloved, but dominating father comes down with a serious illness, Ditte is faced with a grueling decision: To pursue her own dreams, or to continue her family's legacy.

A Family is a film from Danish director Pernille Fischer Christensen with a screenplay co written by Kim Fupz Aakeson. It premiered in competition at the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival where it won the FIPRESCI Prize.

As you can probably gather from the title, the film is about a family.  The Rheinwald's led by patriarch Rikard (played by veteran Danish actor Jesper Christensen) who runs a successful bakery, one that has been in the family for three generations and is famous for being a purveyor to the Royal Court.  His eldest daughter Ditte (Lene Maria Christensen) runs an art gallery, and as the film starts is about to accept a lucrative job offer in New York.  There is also his second daughter Chrisser (Line Kruse), his common law wife Sanne (Anne Louise Hassing) and their two children Line (Coco Hjardemaal) and Werner (Gustav Fischer Kjaerulff). 

We can tell early on that this is a very personal film for the director, as the story and screen time is centered mostly on Ditte and her relationship with everyone, but especially her father Rikard.  Ditte's character gets the most development and Lene Maria Christensen handles the part rather well, but it is Jesper Christensen who owns this film with a towering and physically demanding performance.

At the start of the film, Rikard is freshly recovered from a round of chemotherapy, all tests show that the cancer is in remission and he's in good health and spirits.  For a moment we are even fooled into thinking this is going to be a lighthearted family comedy.  However he soon learns that the cancer has not only returned but has spread incurably.  What follows is a realistic and emotional account of the family as they deal with his impending fate.  As the film and the illness progresses we see the devastating physical changes in Rikard the character, as Jesper Christensen the actor loses serious amounts of weight, going from looking healthy, to gaunt, to down right cadaverous at the end.  Always an incredible transformation to see when it's an actor in their prime doing it, but it's quite a feat for a 62 year old.

Yes it's a powerful and personal story, and a shockingly realistic portrayal that many can relate to, especially anyone who has lost a loved one to cancer.  However, without that connection there isn't much to this film to recommend.  Visually it's blandly shot, certain sub plots could have been explored more to give the supporting characters proper development, and the music used seemed a poor fit and lacked emotional resonance.  Though I wouldn't be surprised to see an English remake at some point.

Bonjour Tristesse

A Family • En familie (2010)

A Family • En familie (2010)

A Family • En familie (2010)

A Family • En familie (2010)

A Family • En familie (2010)

A Family • En familie (2010)

A Family • En familie (2010)


Hasidic Plubmer said...

Oh man, that looks like a good movie, but im not sure i would want to watch it. It seems like one those that leave you with terrible anguish after it finishes.

NeverTooEarlyMP said...

I haven't seen it yet, but it also made Denmark's shortlist of 3 films that they are considering submitting to the Oscars. I'm predicting that they'll send it, mostly based upon the FIPRESCI prize. Christensen was really god in The Debt, so it would be interesting to see what he does with a more sympathetic character. Thanks for the great review!

Bonjour Tristesse said...

That's all part of my mission.  Thanks for the comment.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Is this typical for a Danish film?  I'm really only familiar with Lars Von Trier and Nicolas Winding Refn, and Susanne Bier's winner from last year.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

It does feel likely that they will submit this one.  It has virtually no chance of winning though.

CS said...

This sounds like something I would like, flaws and all.  I had no idea the film had even came out, so thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

You are right Jesper Christensen seems to be in everything lately.  I have heard of "3" but don't know much about it except that it is directed by Tom Tykwer.  Is it good?

For the tabbed widget, check out my tutorial on my other blog here: said...

This looks interesting.  I'll have to check this one out.  I think one of the actors is from the American version of The Debt.  Have you heard of the new movie "3?"

Also, a non-movie question.  Where did you get the widget or code to put your "top," "recent", and "popular" post in one bar?  Or was this the template?  Any help is appreciated.  Thanks.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Thanks HR, I'm just a weirdo that prefers watching (reading) films with dialog I can't understand.  But I like to think my tastes are varied enough, so that every so often it overlaps with those of my readers.

I hope you enjoy Snowman's Land.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Yeah that's him nice catch.

d4 said...

I could probably watch it but I think I'd end up in a not too great mood. I dunno.

Hoi-Ming Ng said...

This one is a pass for me.

Hermann Rorschach said...

Why do I feel like one of the people that blablahblah was talking about the other day?  The comment he made about the MTV generation.  I don't even consider myself of that generation, or at least, we never had cable.

The passion at which you review movies makes me feel like a dullard in my cinematic interests!  Plus., this is a drama, and you gave it a 7.0 and I have lost both my parents to cancer...
You would think this would be right up my alley.

I don't know where I am going with that.  Take it as a compliment while I wait for my copy of Snowman's Land (which I never would have heard of without your blog) to render.

Shutterbug said...

I would definitely enjoy this film! :D

The Angry Lurker said...

That's Mr.White from Casino Royale?, sounds a hard movie to watch.

blahblahblahtoby said...

yeah just wait for that english language remake scott

FrontRoomCinema said...

Sounds like a hard watch. Maybe I might leave it be.

Thanks for the review BT

Mette said...

Yes, many Danish films are... well, kind of naturalistic, I mean they try to be incredibly realistic, but sometimes it just gets too dark and weird. They're also often about families and complicated relationships. 

Mette said...

Danmark wooohoo! Okay, that's enough of patriotism. Actually, I didn't even get around to watch the film at the theatre, because it sounded a bit typical... for a Danish film. Don't think I'll watch it now, either.

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