A scene from 'Mifune'
Courtesy Photo
**1/2 stars In Dutch with English subtitles
99 minutes | Rated: R
Opened: Friday, March 17, 2000 (SF)
Co-written & directed by Soren Kragh-Jacobsen

Starring Anders W Berthelsen, Iben Hjejle, Jesper Asholt, Sofie Grabol, Emil Tarding & Anders Hove

Interview with writer-director Soren Kragh-Jacobsen


Unlikely to be absorbing on video. Too dry to hold one's attention at home where you could be doing something else. Might be a decent rental for an afternoon of ironing or something like that.

   VIDEO RELEASE: 09/05/2000

 LINKS for this film
Official site
at Internet Movie Database
Newlywed yuppie returns to his impoverished farm roots for dad's funeral in 'Mifune'

By Rob Blackwelder

Ashamed of his poor, rural upbringing, Kresten (Anders W. Berthelsen) -- a fast-rising Copenhagen yuppie who just married the boss' daughter -- has always told his new wife and in-laws that he has no living relatives.

But in "Mifune," the latest and least bizarre movie from a brotherhood of Danish directors sworn to a sparse filmmaking code called Dogme 95, Kresten is forced by his father's untimely death to abandon his bride and return to the dilapidated farm of his youth.

The revelation of his past has quickly cast doubt on his virtue in his infant marriage, forcing him to re-examine his priorities. Now he has a funeral to arrange, a severely autistic brother (Jesper Asholt) to tend to, and a run-down farm to unload. As he trudges through his past, mothballed emotional baggage begins springing open in his mind.

The Dogme 95 stylings -- rules include filming only on location with handheld cameras, natural sound and no imported props or sets -- are not intrusive here, as they were in Harmony Korine's "julien donkey-boy," the most recent film shot under this experimental philosophy. Writer-director Soren Kragh-Jacobsen has an overriding investment in his characters over his technique, committing to his camera scene after scene of effective, authentically personal moments.

But while the story has an agreeable, bittersweetly comic, slice-of-life air to it, that air is a little dry.

Kresten's former life yanking his dreams out from under him is paralleled by a converging narrative about a former prostitute (Iben Hjejle) who is considerably more interesting than he is.

An intelligent beauty who became a high-priced call girl to put her ungrateful, troubled teenage brother (Emil Tarding) through prep school, she abandons her pimp to runs away to the country after being tormented by a stalker who made it impossible for her to live in denial of the life she'd chosen. When she becomes Kresten's housekeeper and lover, she grows, but he remains a bit of a weasel.

The title is an homage to Toshiro Mifune, the Japanese master thespian whose role in Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" was the inspiration for Kresten's and his brother's favorite childhood role-playing game. That film was the inspiration for Kragh-Jacobsen's story arc. In "Samurai" Mifune plays a warrior in denial of his impoverished past, who in the end must admit to his heritage and return to save his village.

Strongly acted (especially by Asholt as the childlike brother), "Mifune" is adequately immersing, but not memorable. Two days after screening it, I couldn't even recall the ending. Had I not taken notes, the rest might have slipped away too by the time I wrote this review.

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