Theo’s review published on Letterboxd:
The best film of 2021? Best new release i’ve seen since Uncut Gems anyway. Put it this way - if there was such a thing as 6 stars, this’d get 7.
Utterly utttterly mesmerising. Dancing poetry. Intoxicated jubilation. Life-affirming liberation. Bewildered at how finely tuned each detail n performance is, every word spoken with meaning and each scene balanced deftly, supplying a difficult subject with wildly entertaining and often agonising substance, never faltering in the consolatory approach to a inherently downbeat theme. Despite the harshness of the topic, it’s intertwined with some trademark-European witty imagery and dialogue, and I found myself pretty much cackling with laughter on various occasions.
Juggling these themes is a complex endeavour but Vinterberg makes it look like child’s play, embodying the film with his candour and diligence, commanding tone-flips with such finesse and care that none are jarring or feel unearned. Commanded with such care in fact that often the mood changes radiated off-screen as if they were themselves tangible, able to cut a slice into the tragic tension at Mikklesen’s dinner-table or the toe-curling awkwardness of the scolding in the staffroom once the 0.05% plan had been foiled, Thomas Bo Laren’s unfortunate entrance turning the curled-toes into broken ones. Every turn turned, every decision made, crafted down to the most distinct detail, acutely rendering the countless dimensions in the story with perfectly-tuned moments of hysteria and moments of heartbreak.
Everything’s wired to a degree of such contemplative beauty that I was already welling up 40 minutes in - for no apparent reason other than my thirst for a new masterpiece being quenched that soon - and actually had to take a step back to gather myself, which I did only to be ripped apart by the next 70 minutes and stitched back together again come that downright joyous and purifying finish.
Mads Mikklesen is stupidly good, his head ascending into the clouds and above but his feet firmly rooted down on earth. He provides fire to a firey picture, and while Vinterberg is most definitely the match, Mikklesen is the flame. Everyone else is the wood and the coal and the kindling keeping this ferocious fire from showing the slightest ember of faltering. A cleanser of your spirit, and for some maybe an awakening of their own.
Side note - since this is a 2021 UK release i’m adding it to my list for this year ! 2021 favourites