Thomas Vinterberg
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

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Thomas Vinterberg

Festen/ The Celebration (1998) is a family melodrama full of psychological tension, set in a mansion during a twenty-four hour period. Two brothers, one quiet and polite and the other a brute and a drunkard, are used to analyze their father, who is the real villain of the story. The film is as cruel and deep as it looks light and superficial. The gallery of characters, engaged in unveiling the family's dark secrets, is reminiscent of the plays of Ibsen and Strindberg.

Christian is on his cellular phone and is walking down a country road connecting the train station and the land of his father. His brother Michael is driving down the same road with his family and stops to give him a ride. Michael is arrogant and pretentious and has his family get off the car in order to make room for his brother, although there is plenty of room for everybody. Needless to say, his wife Mette is rather upset. When they arrive at the huge mansion, they find out that Michael has not been invited: he has a reputation for unfriendly behaviour when he gets drunk, which happens frequently. In the menatime, their sister Helene is in a car driving like an obsessed. As she arrives, she reproaches Michael for missing their other sister's funeral. More guests arrive and pass Michael's family which is still walking. They are all gathering at Helge's mansion to celebrate his 60th birthday.
Helene is given her sister's room and we learn that the dead girl, Linda, was Christian's twin. She notes that somebody painted a fish on the roof of the bathroom where the girl died.
Michael and his wife Mette have another argument, and then have sex like animals.
Christian is talking with the waitress Pia, whom he is obviously attached to. He is calm and friendly. After they had sex, she undresses and enters the bathroom and faints a suicide in the tub.
In the bathroom Helene finds Linda's suicide letter.
Michael falls in the shower and, again, yells at his wife.
At the birthday banquet, Christian is clearly not happy with his father's speech.
The waitress Michelle pours water on Michael's pants in front of his wife: obviously they have a story to hide.
Christian taps his spoon on the glass to get everybody's attention and then calmly accuse his father of having repeatedly raped both him and the other children. In the kitchen the staff is listening carefully through an intercom to what is happening in the dining room.
An embarrassed silence follows Christian's remarks, then the celebration continues and Christian walks out of the room. Helene tells the guests that Christian did not tell the truth. Christian goes to the kitchen to meet his childhood friend, the chef Kim. Christian wants to leave but Kim reproaches him as if he was running away from his duty.
His father comes to look for him and has a word with him. He flatly asks Christian why he lied. Christian apologizes: he is just very stressed. Then Christian rejoins the banquet.
In the kitchen the chef continues to direct the insurrection: he orders Michelle and Pia to steal the car keys of all the guests, so they won't be able to leave before Christian completes his mission.
Michael sees a black American approaching the mansion and treats him in a racist manner, offering him money to leave even if he has been invited. The black man, Gbatokai, is his sister's boyfriend. Michael is disgusted when he sees her kissing him and even calls him a "monkey".
Christian rises again and calls for a toast to his father, calling him the man who murdered his sister. This time the old man walks out of the room, followed by all the guests. Some of them would like to leave but the car keys cannot be found.
Michelle confronts Michael and makes a scene because he is not giving her any attention. He tries to buy her silence but she slaps him in the face. He beats her savagely.
In the meantime, the father has confronted Christian again and told him that he is the one who should be ashamed. Listing Christian's failures in life and the fact that he abandoned Linda when she most needed him, Helge paints a picture of his son as the real villain.
The guests have no choice but to return to the dining table. It is now Christian's mother to make a toast and she invites Christian to apologize for having told all those lies. Christian rises and, instead of apologizing, tells of when she caught his father in the act, sodomizing him, Christian, and she simply walked out. Christian even says he hopes she dies. to make a toast and she invites Christian to apologize for having told all those lies. Christian rises and, instead of apologizing, tells of when she caught his father in the act, sodomizing him, Christian, and she simply walked out. Christian even says he hopes she dies. Michael gets up and pushes Christian out of the room and keeps pushing him until he physically ejects him from the house.
Christian re-enters the house, walks straight into the room while his grandmother is singing a merry song and resumes his speech. Michael and other guests grab him and carry him outside again, but this time they also beat him and tie him to a tree in the woods.
Back inside, Michael has an argument with Gbatokai and only Helene's intervention avoids a fight. When, back at the table, Michael leads the guests into a racist song, Helene leaves the room. Pia helps her in the bathroom and, while searching for pills in her purse, finds Linda's suicide note.
While Christian, who has freed himself, rejoins the guests, Helene rises and reads Linda's suicide note. Her last words clearly accuse her father. At the end of the letter Helge asks the servants to pour drinks to the guests, but they refuse to move. As Christian asks him why he did it, Helge leaves the room furious.
It is finally time to go to bed. Christian wakes up and thinks he sees Linda. It is actually Helene ringing him to go downstairs again. While Christian joins Linda and her boyfriend for a late-night dance, Michael, completely drunk, attacks his father and drags him outside.
The following morning the guests have breakfast as if nothing happened. Christian asks Pia to move to Paris with him. His father enters the room, sits at the table and gives a speech in which he apologizes and recognizes that he will probably never see them again. Michael gets up and whispers to him to get out so can go on with breakfast.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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