The Commune

Thomas Vinterberg’s return to form: part two of the best new film releases selected by Bert Rebhandl

The Commune
Directed by Thomas Vintenberg
In UK cinemas 29 July

Thomas Vinterberg, The Commune, 2016. Photograph: Ola Kjelbye

Thomas Vinterberg, The Commune, 2016. Photograph: Ola Kjelbye

Danish director Thomas Vinterberg had his moment with Festen (1998), which was widely hailed as a quintessentially ‘Dogme-95’ film, the movement he started with Lars von Trier (even if Von Triers’ The Idiots earlier in the year was a lot more radical and less pretentious in terms of enacting an anti-style). After his smash hit, Vinterberg had an unstable career, with oddities like Dear Wendy (2004), which might have had something like Dogville inside of it – it was written by Von Trier – but whatever potential was there remained unearthed.

Thomas Vinterberg, The Commune, 2016. Photograph: Ola Kjelbye

Thomas Vinterberg, The Commune, 2016. Photograph: Ola Kjelbye

His new film The Commune looks like a return to his comfort zone. This is once again an ensemble piece, a period drama, and a look back to the times when alternative culture in Scandinavia was beginning to go mainstream. Erik and Anna (Dogme-95 stars Ulrich Thomsen and Trine Dyrholm) inherit a house with a garden. It is the early ’70s. They could sell and carry on with their lives, but they decide to keep the house and take in friends. The irony is that Anna, who iniated the move, will suffer the most from it, as she will have to accept being replaced as Erik’s partner and lover, and suffer the awkwardness of seeing her  every night at the communal dinner. And here is also the weak spot of the movie: it takes side with the group (and with alpha male Erik). Because Vinterberg is very much in love with Dyrholm as a tragic heroine, he loses her as a subject.

Bert Rebhandl lebt als freier Journalist, Autor und Übersetzer in Berlin. Er ist Mitbegründer und Herausgeber des Magazins Cargo.

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