Minor Mishaps is the story of a family in which family relations are put to the test after the mother dies. It is a collective tale in which we follow the lives of the four leads: 1) John, the father, who has a serious heart condition but risks his life by sticking to his job as a hospital porter; 2) Tom, his son, who is in the process of losing his wife and children because his career as a building contractor overshadows everything else; 3) Eva, the elder daughter, trying to make her way as an artist but "scared shitless" whenever she faces a blank canvas; and 4) Marianne, the younger daughter, who gets a new job running the staff canteen at an accountancy partnership and despite her inexperienced, awkward behavior initiates an affair with a colleague. All four try to find themselves and one another, and all four learn that families aren't something you choose, but something you just have.
Director Annette K. Olesen has given us a sweet, funny, melancholic, sometimes dark exposition of a family that is 'dysfunctional' only in the popular American sense. Within the confines of this Dogme exercise, we see much deeper into the pain and eccentricities of a family that's swinging on a creaky hinge, living not with disasters but with 'minor mishaps'. These 'mishaps' are the stuff of which humanity, and art, are based.
It would be hard to find better 'ensemble' acting anywhere. Jorgen Tiil as John, the widowed patriarch, gives us a splendid study of a misunderstood man who makes the terrible societal mistake of trying to please everyone, of being too affectionate with his awkward, painfully shy, 29-year-old daughter Marianne, played with stunning effectiveness by Maria Wurgler Rich. There are whispers of incest spread by sister Eva (Jannie Fourschou), an off-the-wall (literally) talentless painter and sometimes Haiku writer.
There is a lot of lovely, quirky comedy in this film, but a lot of pain too, particularly when we study Marianne. In the opening sequences, while mourning for her mother, who is hit (almost comically) by a truck, the other family members just want to get the whole funeral business over with. Marianne, through Rich's sheer depth of acting skill, shows us shattering reactions of sorrow. She wants to be good, to cook for her father, to love him, to fill a huge void in his life. In society of course, such things are easily misinterpreted. Demonstrating TOO MUCH familial love is strange; there must be something more to it. The 'dysfunction' here belongs to society itself: when too much loving is going on, something must be amiss. This theme extends itself to the family throughout the film.
There are layers of meaning in this film that are unpeeled for us through terrific acting and direction. And yet there is still more for us to examine when it ends. When a film makes you WANT to examine more, then to me it's done its job very well indeed. Highly recommended.
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