The Danish film-maker Thomas Vinterberg made his name in 1998 with Festen (aka The Celebration), one of those family reunion dramas that culminate in savage blood-letting. In that case, an embittered son reveals that he and his twin sister were abused by his wealthy, overbearing father whose 60th birthday the dysfunctional clan has gathered to celebrate. The movie was made in that deliberately ugly style embraced by Dogme 95, the self-publicising faction formed by Vinterberg and Lars von Trier to purify a corrupt cinema and committed to eschewing special effects, artificial lighting, makeup, incidental music, cutting within a sequence, specially built sets and tripods.
The group's creators have moved on from the austere conditions they originally proposed, Vinterberg to traditional realism, von Trier to increased stylisation. But in his outstanding new film,