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A group of 20 and 30 year olds embark on a series of 'spassing' (acting as if disabled) attacks on their community, from the comfort of a large house as their base, owned by a relative of chief 'spasser' Stoffer (Jens Albinus). The objective is to play the idiot (as the word originally intends) and find your own private idiot persona. They try to live out the excesses and the aggression, the curiosity and unbridled childishness inherent in some mentally handicapped people, as well as the primitive sexual urges. We are introduced to the group by a sad and lonely woman who gets caught up in an early 'spassing' and ends up going along with the group for her own, sad reasons - as we eventually discover, in the emotional climax that also marks the breaking up of the group.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
First off, I gotta warn you: if you are planning to see The Idiots because you loved Breaking the Waves by Lars, don't do it without a bit more research. It's not the sequel. This film can be seen as revolutionary - both in its bravura, anti-bourgeois attitude, and its Dogma production ethic. Or it can be seen as totally misguided in both. I tend toward the latter.

Its revolutionary idea is out of date, as far as I'm concerned, and its filmmaking ethos is contrived and ill-conceived. It's like a surgeon refusing to use lasers for eye surgery in the belief that a hand held scalpel is a more 'real' tool. Well, for starters, if you're going to shoot a two hour drama on hand held camera, get Greg. Greg Kay is my cameraman on the SBS TV series Front Up, which involves shooting interviews in the street for up to a full day at a time (lunch break 40 minutes) and him hoisting the camera on his right shoulder for the entire day. He gets a lot steadier result than this film has managed, which is a problem for the eyes.

But this is the least of its miscalculations. Parading 'spassing' as a form of idiocy that is akin to innocence is woefully wrong, and we can sense it. These people are not making a social statement. They're being ...stupid.... idiotic. (Note to marketing: should have called it Stupid and Stupider...) But if that's the point, it's way too slim for a movie length gurgle. There are moments, though, that resonate, and near the end, some emotional buttons are pressed, and pressed well, but all out of context of the preceding proceedings. Had Lars von Trier chosen a different metaphor for the search for a key to make an impact or alter or lives (society?) he may have achieved a better result.

What we have here, I feel, is a desperate attempt to be different, with all the angst ridden psycho-dribble of a creative European sensibility that fears its own irrelevance in contemporary Western civilisation. And don't think I'm being too hard here: Lars once told me in an interview he saw himself as "a masturbator of the silver screen." He's honest, as well as talented and maybe benignly crazy. He's looking for something - give him time.

Published April 7, 2005

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CAST: Bodil Jorgensen, Jens Albinus, Louise Hassing, Troels Lyby, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Henrik Prip, Luis Mesonero, Louise Mieroitz, Knud Romer Jorgensen, Trine Michelsen, Anne-Grethe Bjarup Riis

DIRECTOR: Lars von Trier

SCRIPT: Lars von Trier

RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes


SPECIAL FEATURES: Trailer, filmographies, stills


DVD RELEASE: March 16, 2005

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