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MIFUNE

SYNOPSIS:
Since moving to the city Kresten (Andres W. Berthelsen) has managed to carve out a comfortable lifestyle. With a well paid job, a nice apartment and a new wife, life couldn't be better. The last thing he needs is to be reminded of his past. But that's exactly what does confront him when, upon his father's death, he's forced to return to the country home of his youth; to a mentally retarded brother and a thousand long-suppressed unhappy memories. Anxious to free himself of the rural backwater as soon as possible after putting the family affairs in order, Kresten places an ad in a newspaper for a live-in housekeeper. Enter Liva (Iben Hjejle), a disillusioned city prostitute looking for an escape. Slowly these two unlikely kindred spirits forge a bond that changes their lives.

"Easily the most accessible of the three Dogma films released in Australia so far, Mifune is an exceptionally well acted drama which throws a handful of troubled characters into anxiety-provoking situations and comes up with a riveting study in appearances and perceptions. Shot in 35mm with rock-steady hand-held camera and directed by journeyman Soren Kragh-Jacobsen (10 years older than Dogma main man Lars Von Trier) Mifune isn't exactly polished visually but is easier on the eye than The Idiots and Festen; it makes good on the Dogma commitment to stripping away as much artificiality as possible in the quest for truth and honesty in cinema. One thing this trio of films has uncovered is a seemingly unlimited supply of exceptional Danish actors. Anders W. Berthelsen's outstanding performance as the increasingly desperate Kresten is one of the acting highlights of the year and the luminous Iben Hjelje is simply wonderful as Liva. All the main protagonists in Mifune, with the notable exception of Rud, are hiding behind personas adopted to hide varying degrees of guilt, fear and shame and witnessing the liberation of these troubled characters down on the farm makes for rewarding and absorbing cinema."
Richard Kuipers

"Against expectations, one must concede that the Dogma Manifesto which director Lars Von Trier and his fellow Scandanavian filmmaking alumni formulated in 1995 is certainly not the disaster industry cynics would have you believe. Sure, The Idiots had some critics reaching for their guns, but then along came the excellent Festen and all was forgiven. Soren Kragh-Jacobsen's Dogma 3 - Mifune - easily lives up to Festen's high standards. Narrative-wise the film follows a well-worn path. Indeed, it would be safe to say that the time-honoured "opposites attract" scenario which Mifune advances has always been, in some shape or form, the true heart and soul of romantic comedy dramas dating back to the silent two reelers. In this instance, Kragh-Jacobsen not only gives the idea a fresh airing, by filtering it through the Dogma formula - the unsteady hand-held camera, the home-movie intimacy of its often grainy mise-en-scene, the measured, almost minimalist pace - he has made a film whose less is more strategy yields the simplest of pleasures. The title refers to the Samurai game Kresten used to play with the brother where he pretended to be Toshiro Mifune, the late great Japanese actor."
Leo Cameron

"There's no doubt that some of the most exciting cinema in the world at the moment is coming out of Denmark with its Dogme manifesto. This time it's the turn of director Søren Kragh-Jacobsen to try to stick to the by now familiar rules of the manifesto. Even though directors are not meant to be credited in these works, the sheer nature of the restrictions means that the films must be very much the vision of the director and the content must be informed by the background of the creator, seemingly much more so than your typical big budget production. Mifune is an odd piece of work. It has some lovely moments but doesn't seem to hang together as a whole and director Kragh-Jacobsen seems to have a rather tired and at times cliched view of humanity. The lead character, Kresten (Anders W. Berthelsen), is not overly sympathetic. In fact, without the other three major characters in the piece, there would be little to care about. But even these characters evoke little empathy. Iben Hjejle gives a fine performance as Liva Psilander but the story of the woman verges on the misogynistic: her only escape from prostitution is housekeeping and her only revenge on her lover is prostitution. Her son's transformation from naughty to nice can be seen coming a mile away. The humanity of the film comes through a brilliant portrayal by Jesper Asholt of Rud, the mentally retarded brother of Kresten. He does manage to put some delight into an otherwise trying film."
Lee Gough

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

MIFUNE (MA)
(Denmark)

CAST: Iben Hjejle, Anders W. Berthelsen, Jesper Asholt, Emil Tarding, Anders Hove, Sofie Gråbøl, Paprika Steen

DIRECTOR: Søren Kragh-Jacobsen

PRODUCER: Morten Kaufmann, Birgitte Hald

SCRIPT: Anders Thomas Jensen, Søren Kragh-Jacobsen

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Anthony Dod Mantle

EDITOR: Valdis Oskarsdóttir

MUSIC: Thor Backhausen, Karl Bille, Christian Siever

PRODUCTION DESIGN:

RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: March 23, 2000 (Sydney, Perth) March 30 (Melb)

VIDEO RELEASE: August 23, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: ColTriStar Home Entertainment







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