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This Life More at IMDbPro »Hvidsten gruppen (original title)

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25 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

Up close and personal

8/10
Author: Grann-Bach (Grann-Bach@jubii.dk) from Denmark
10 March 2012

Denmark, 1942. The Fiil couple, Marius and Gudrun(who have some of the best and most powerful screen-time), are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, along with the birth of their first grandchild. Invited to the tavern they own and run is their family and their friends from both the Jutland village of Hvidsten and the surrounding areas(and these fallible, normal average Joe's are who we follow for the duration, and from their perspective, which has a certain intimacy to it; also, several things are more effective on account of that, such as plane fly-bys(heck, I ducked in my seat to not get hit by it), which demand surround sound, and are a fantastic reason for you to see this in the theater), and these early scenes help us get to know them(making it have an impact when we later see him recruiting them... and the tough choice has to be made - can one really make a difference, and what will happen to the relatives if one gets caught, etc.), see them in a pleasant situation(and these parties are very comfortable, you feel like you're there with them) and the credible characters and their close(and realistic) relationships with each other are established and developed. With a cast of over a dozen, obviously not everyone gets a lot of time, but few are one-note. The acting has been criticized... honestly, I can see that maybe a third of it(shared by almost everyone in this, meaning no one is consistently poor) is unconvincing, perhaps downright bad. That's it. The rest of it is great. This is a compelling film. For the first half, the Nazis are not seen very much in this, and once they appear, they come off like the machines from the flashbacks in The Terminator(original); relentless killing machines that you want to avoid at all costs(they are the only people in this that don't come off as full humans(and they shouldn't, because they wouldn't to these untrained, small town farmers in this position. In the first 10-20 minutes, the occupation is just under the surface, barely mentioned, because when you're experiencing it, you can't maintain your sanity if you constantly focus on it. This is practically purely filmed with hand-held camera, which serves two functions(and well, at that). It makes the scenes of these regular people seem natural, like they're right in front of you. And it has the Paul Greengrass thing going for it, making it more gripping. This is a highly tense film(and little of it is false(if it does sometimes suffer from the Danish movie issue of not having consequences to negative occurrences)... near the very end, there is a sequence that, as one of the few, strains credulity and frankly detracts from the whole. This is also the only point where this feels slow, the pacing is otherwise very good, and the running time of around two hours is fitting), you're on the edge of your seat for the majority, not only when people may die. I would classify it as a drama-thriller, not an action flick. It's not spy stuff, it's trying to hide from the Germans. This gets a genuine emotional response from the viewer. It is not sentimental. The use of traditional Danish music(some of it proud) is marvelous(international audiences will sadly miss some of that). This has very nice humor, as well. There is plenty of disturbing content and a little bloody violence in this. I recommend this to everyone mature enough. 8/10

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Absolutely wonderful film!

9/10
Author: minmagi50 from Denmark
13 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It is great, great film about a dark period in Danish history: 'the Five Cursed Years' as we call the 5 years under Nazi rule. The Hvidsten Group is a film about a closely knit family from Mid-Jutland who own an old highway-inn: The Hvidsten Inn. Father, Marius Fiil, his wife Gudrun and their 3 daughters and 1 son. The film is based on a true story. First part of the film present the family and their friends and neighbors at the silver anniversary of Marius and Gudrun. This shows a family with much love and respect for each other - mixed with a subtle humor, which is typical for countryside-Jutland. They also have strong values and patriotism. As Marius says:'Can't we all agree that it's best to be the master of your own house?' The party shows a family who are hard-working, but love to have fun, when possible. At the party we are also presented for different points of view about the occupation: some praise the Germans and mistrust the allies, and the heated argument that follows also show Marius as a skilled mediator. This first part of the film is essential to understand the standpoint of the family and the other members of the group later on. One of the things I want to pinpoint is how true and real all the actors are. It's like you meet the real Fiils! Good job! Another highlight is the fact that the director dares to let them live their patriotism and be proud of it - almost impossible nowadays where patriotism = nationalism and what is worse. A warm, true and touching film about a brave and patriotic family and their friends who paid the ultimate prize for their patriotism. One of the best Danish Films of all times.

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29 out of 57 people found the following review useful:

Disappointing movie with anachronisms and ridiculous scenes

2/10
Author: aftenfilosof
20 August 2012

1. Horrible dialogue. The characters explicitly state their occupations ('I attend the Agricultural College, not a house holding school', 'What's it like being a veterinarian?'). Not a single Danish actor talks like people did in the 1940's, i.e. they keep addressing strangers with the familiar 'du' {tu}, not the formal 'De' {vous}. – The dialogue is forced and full of anachronisms. I got the sensation of watching a bad written school play.

2. No one seems to be affected by the shortage of household goods. During the Nazi occupation, they drink what appears to be regular coffee and carbonated beverages. In fact, there doesn't seem to be a shortage of anything–except German soldiers in the first 45 minutes or so of the movie. What kind of occupation is this? Where are the miserable living conditions of wartime? 3. The resistance people are all way too chatty and amateurish. Everyone in the area knows who's in the resistance, even the kids know. What about a little secrecy? During the nightly activities, they can't get any work done without chatting and small talking. But that's not all, of course, they're also smoking. Even a lit matchstick can be seen from far away! Given the fact, however, that there're almost no Germans in the first part of the movie, why take precautions? No need for stealth operations. – I get it, the resistance members are just ordinary people risking their lives, but why depict them as being utter morons? It's quite insulting, actually.

4. Ridiculous scenes. One scene in particular comes to mind: A quiet, serious man walks into the tavern, wearing trench coat and fedora hat–the whole secret agent or private detective look. But all seriousness is blown away when he claims to be from The National museum of Denmark, looking for some good locations to perform archaeological excavations. – At this point I just laughed out loud. It's such a stupid and funny scene. Again, why depict the characters as idiots? It's not a comedy; at least I don't think it is.

In conclusion, this movie would make a very funny lampoon, if someone cut it down to a 20 minutes short. Nothing but the ridiculous scenes is worth watching, so a shortened version would be highly appreciated.

Thanks to Anne-Grethe Bjarup Riis–and everyone else involved with this uninspiring movie–for ridiculing some brave people who died for a noble cause. May they rest in peace.

One question remains unanswered: Did anyone involved with the production know anything about occupied Denmark in the 1940's? Anything at all?

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Seriously ...

4/10
Author: nannanysted from Denmark
19 November 2014

This movie was a parody and is waaaay too overrated in Denmark. I remember when it came out and everybody was going crazy about how awesome it was. I've never really been a fan of Anne Grethe Bjarup Riis but I promised myself that I wouldn't let that OR the fact that it had been hyped that much affect me - so I watched it with an open mind.

That didn't help for long. The first third of the movie is terribly awkward. The dialog is forced and the acting is bad which might be due to aforementioned. I watched it with my 17 year-old sister and even she could actually see it and said that it reminded her of performing an act in high school which I think describes it very well.

I do give it a 4, though. The acting, directing, screenplay (etc.) might be bad (which is upsetting as the true story about the Hvidsten Group has great potential) but it does tell the story of brave men and women that fought on the right side in Denmark during WWII. They deserve to be reminded and the movie might have opened people's eyes and it DID touch me - but only because I was reminded that it is based on something that really happened. Despite from that I think the actor Bodil Jørgensen deserves some credit. She manages (pretty much as the only one) to really make something good out of the bad screenplay and made the movie less of a comedy to watch throughout.

If you are curious about the resistance group, Hvidsten Group, and don't bother taking the time to read about it - sure, go ahead and watch the movie. However, I would personally recommend the reading.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Incredibly acting

8/10
Author: erik-istrup from Denmark
17 April 2014

After seeing the film, and now think back to what made the biggest impression, I can say that it is the stunning performance of the characters in the film. An incredibly authentic presentation, both in duologue and body language, and with a great empathy for each role. It is nice to see, that Denmark is still able to bring good acting to the world. The plot shows how naive and trusting in the cause and right the right thing to do, that would be necessary to start an upraising in the first place. The film stands out, by not containing the violence and brutality, that is most common among films describing this particular period. - Thank you for this experience.

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