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November 11, 2010

Starz Denver Film Festival 2010 - A Family

a family.jpg

En Familie
Pernille Fischer Christensen - 2010
Zentropa Entertainment 35mm film

No dogme or dogma here. Pernille Christensen's film is about the combustible nature of a family, but also about the problems created when the circumstances change that informed certain life decisions. The family history is introduced in the beginning of the film, a family of bakers. These are Danes of Germanic heritage, family name of Rheinwald, so the men always have German names. The current head of the family, Richard, also has created a unique connection to Denmark, always proudly remarking that he is the purveyor to the royal family.

The film primarily centers around Richard, ill from cancer, and possibly dying, and his eldest daughter, Ditte. Considering an offer to work for a New York City based art gallery, Ditte is hesitant to leave her father when his health is uncertain. At the same time, Richard has to make some decisions regarding what happens to his bakery after his death, as there is no one in the family capable or interested in being in charge, or able to maintain certain traditions of quality. Complicating matters for Ditte is her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter.

The narrative covers the length of Richard's last days. During that time, the film also covers the shift in the various relationships between the six family members, as well as Ditte's relationship with Peter. There are also the changes in self-perception, as when the young son, known as Vimmer by the other family members, decides that he wants to be known by his proper name, Werner. What makes the film of interest are those aspects that might be considered universal, such as Ditte's attempt to decide what she wants to do in life, while trying to confront her father's expectations. As the father, Richard, Jesper Christensen gives a remarkable performance, seeming to gain health, and then deteriorate, right before our eyes.

This is the first film I've seen by Pernille Christensen. Her debut film, Soap is available on DVD in the U.S. Of interest is this interview from IndieWire.

Posted by peter at November 11, 2010 06:16 AM