Directed by: Thomas Vinterberg. Mads is definitely one of my favourites (isn’t he everyone’s favourite? so handsome!), but I resisted this for a long time because I didn’t know anything about it, and I thought it might be a devastating, European angst, Haneke/Von Trier type thing. In fact, this bears only a passing resemblance to the most merciful moments of Haneke or Von Trier—it’s more American independent/arthouse than either of those auteurs. This is my first encounter with Vinterberg, but at once, I’d say he’s not as interested in shocking or aweing or dragging his audience under a rip tide of depression like those other two directors that I’m arbitrarily comparing him to. To me, this movie unfolded slowly, unexpectedly, like a very mature, expertly crafted, robust, modern adult drama about the cohesion of societies, the bonds of community, the things that threaten to tear those bonds apart, and ultimately the fragility of those social bonds. This is one of those descendants of Lord of the Flies, aiming to show how thin the veneer of upright society is, how when challenged in a single specific way, modern subjects revert to tribalistic violence and quick, easy scapegoating in order to preserve the integrity of the commons, all the while totally destroying that social fabric in the process. However, I say robust and mature, etc, because this movie is different from the majority of William Golding’s offspring, because this movie doesn’t simply wallow in negativity like the cinematic equivalent of a teenager in goth makeup (like, for instance, Fight Club and its offspring, or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, or Eli Roth, or a number of other things). The humble air, the small town setting, the banal universalism, to me actually reads as universal, where in American hands it might get too Woody Allen and be some weird, skewed, bourgeois condemnation. These people in this small Danish town, they feel real, they feel average, and their journey really feels like it can provide lessons for us, all over the world, about societies as such. And the great thing (spoiler) is that, even when this whole big thing has been resolved, and they permit him back into their society, it’s revealed that it’s never really fixed, that he’ll never really be taken back into this society, that the social fabric, once broken, cannot really ever be mended again. And it feels believable, it feels intelligent, it does not feel like it originates from the Fred Durst school of thought. And I like that.