|Index||3 reviews in total|
About ten years ago, a group of Danish filmmakers started the Dogme
school of film-making, that inflicted a self-imposed discipline on its
adherents, including no artificial leaps of time and space, no special
effects or soundtracks that weren't actually created on set, hand-held
cameras only, no superficial plot enhancements (like murders) and so
on. It was a reaction partly against the 'auteur' school where a
director stamped his personality on a film, but mostly against the
excesses and decadence of Hollywood, as the founders felt that
filmmakers were in danger of losing sight of the craft of film-making
in a world where a film's value was dictated by accountants, marketing
people, big names, and people and technology that was external to the
process itself. The creators of Dogme never intended it as a philosophy
to be put on a pedestal, but simply as an experiment, one of any
number, that could create better film-making. In Your Hands is
reportedly the last film to be made under the strict auspices of Dogme.
Our main protagonist is Anna (played by Ann Eleonora Jorgenson), a newly qualified pastor, who takes up her first appointment in a women's prison. One of the inmates is reputed to have 'healing hands' or is maybe psychic. The emotional crises that develop are ones between faith and spirituality, as well as attitudes to abortion and love versus duty.
Dogme's great strength has been the way it lends itself to naturalistic, almost documentary-like acting, and then, once the audience has completely bought in and sees the characters as totally lifelike, being able to shock us with revelations that could be frivolous in any others hands - but become cause for soul searching when we are confronted with them as part of 'normal' life. There have been many failures often due to poor acting and poor script (Dogme is a discipline to avoid the excesses pitfalls of market-driven cinema, not a ready built recipe for success). But its best examples have always shocked us by making us ask how on earth a 'real' person copes. In Festen (The Celebration), we get to know and like a normal family that have a big reunion grand dinner . . . at the height of the joie de vivre, when suddenly one of the family is accused of abusing one of the others present (now an adult) as a child, it is difficult for the audience to cope with wondering how exactly the rest of the family should act. In Idioterne (The Idiots), a group of drop-outs have fun or 'celebrate their inner idiot' by acting like mentally ill people. The problem the serious audience has is not whether such material is a suitable subject for a movie but whether they are able to come to terms with their own feelings about it when it is portrayed so realistically.
A question posed by these films that is also posed by In Your Hands is, what do we do when someone we like or respect is also a source of wrongdoing? And what of our judgement? Are we free to judge as if we were perfect can we forgive ourselves for being only human and if so, where do we draw the line on what is acceptable in our own judgements and our own aspiration to become better? The process of 'becoming who we are', individually, also draws a nice parallel to the process of film-making which, at the level of Dogme, is reduced to itself, for better or worse.
One of the great strengths of In Your Hands is the acting, particularly Jorgenson. She just wants to be a pastor, be a reasonably nice person, do her job, get on with her relationship etc. She is not prepared for the difficult tests of faith that come her way and neither are we. When she cries, we want to as well, because we feel as trapped as she is by our difficulty in finding a suitable answer to her perfectly reasonable dilemma. But it is her struggle with her problem, her determination to find a decent solution (even if she fails abysmally at times) that make us buy into her character emotionally, in the hope that she will find the right course even where we fail. The gut wrenching performances serve a purpose that goes beyond entertainment they make us ask hypothetically how each of us (as a normal human as is the character) would struggle to answer such difficult problems if they arose, and it is this contribution to situational ethics by means of fictionalised analogy (whether in theatre, literature, poetry, opera or soap opera) that is also one of the defining characteristics (one of many) by which we can identify certain types of art as art and one (of many) reasons that art contributes to a better society. Dogme may have served its purpose, but it has served it well.
Danish film industry has a really great vitality right now and it's not just
von Trier. Dogma movies has been dealing with religious matters before and
this is another try. And a good one.
Ann Eleonora Joergensen plays a priest in a women prison. She meets Kate (Trine Dyrholm) who can perform miracles, which means she can make people fresh from drug overdoses. But Kate has a dark secret. She left her child to die from thirst, when she was going on drugs herself.
There are many conflicts here and the tough one is the priest getting pregnant, but the child might be mongoloid. How about abortion? How can she deal with that, when she deals with mothers at prison, who has murdered their children.
Much to think about and much to feel about also, in this quite good Anette K Olesen movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Riveting chiller of a movie - easily in the top 3 of the Dogme movies.
New female priest in a womens penitentiary must come to terms with her
own demons, faith and way of life when confronted with an inmate who
may be able to perform miracles - at the very least shes able to help
the other inmates getting clean from their drug habits.
Obviously this is not well received among the dealers.
The Priest gets even more confused when shes is surprisingly pregnant and the baby MAY have a chromosome defect...
All this and a a small romance builds to a climax in this extremely well acted movie.
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