Mike D'Angelo
August 20, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Celebration

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
performer
Henning Moritzen, Ulrich Thomsen
director
Thomas Vinterberg
genre
Foreign Language, Drama

We gave it an A-

Dogma 95, the no-frills aesthetic cooked up by a quartet of Danish filmmakers that decries the artificial smoothness of studio filmmaking, may yet turn out to be little more than a pompous bid for attention, but this ultra-naturalistic entry makes a mighty convincing case for its merits. Working with a surefire family-skeleton premise — a bitter son chooses the occasion of his father’s 60th-birthday party to belatedly accuse the man, before all assembled, of childhood sexual abuse — director-cowriter Thomas Vinterberg uses lurching handheld camera work and murky ambient lighting as witty, unsettling counterpoints to the characters’ dogged unflappability. It’s a lesson that Hollywood would do well to learn: Nothing sparks the imagination quite like a load of self-imposed restrictions.

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