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Mifune

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R
2000

Mifune, a Danish film directed by Søren Kragh-Jacobsen, was released in 1999 as part of the renowned Dogme 95 movement – a filmmaking manifesto with roots in realism and naturalism. This award-winning movie features an incredible cast that includes Iben Hjejle, Anders W. Berthelsen, and Jesper Asholt, and it presents a captivating blend of complexity, humor, and drama that has contributed to its standing as one of the finest representatives of Scandinavian cinema.

Mifune is named after the renowned Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune, famous for his roles in Akira Kurosawa's movies. The film, however, isn't about Mifune or Kurosawa, rather refers to Mifune as an incorporeal symbol, a reference to the imagination world within the real, gritty world that anchors the storyline. It encapsulates the protagonist’s situation, mirroring his dreams and aspirations of living a life as dynamic and fulfilling as Mifune's roles.

Anders W. Berthelsen plays the role of Kresten, a successful Copenhagen businessman, who, just after his wedding to the boss's daughter, receives the news of his father's death. Driven by a web of obligations and misunderstandings, he must return to his family's dilapidated farm, a place he has deliberately kept hidden from his new wife, stating that his entire family was deceased. However, contrary to his statements, he is now bound to maintain and manage the farm and take care of his older brother, Rud (Jesper Asholt), a lovably innocent man with special needs who was isolated with their father in this rural setting.

As Kresten struggles to navigate this unfamiliar territory and the hard work that comes with it, he realizes he’s ill-equipped to oversee the house and his brother. Consequently, he places an advert in a local newspaper for a housekeeper. The lively, pragmatic yet enigmatic Liva (Iben Hjejle), running from her past in Copenhagen, answers the ad. Liva lands in this bucolic territory and their lives unknowingly intertwine displacing the routine and rhythm to an engagingly beautiful chaos.

As the narrative unfolds, elements of romance, drama, and comedic absurdity skilfully intertwine, taking the audience on an unforgettable journey into the human condition. The dynamics between the three main characters forms the core essence of the film, their individual idiosyncrasies, and the unconventional relationships that develop between them contribute to the multilayered narrative.

Mifune exhibits Dogme 95's challenge to the traditional Hollywood style, adhering to the raw materialism and rejecting superficial frills. There's an expressive, unfiltered rawness to the movie's visual presentation, intensified by the handheld camera work, natural lighting, and real life locations. The performances presented are equally honest and unpolished, further augmenting the film’s sense of realism.

Berthelsen's stirring performance as Kresten provides the emotional linchpin for the film. Caught between his fabricated metropolitan life and his real rural upbringing, his character's journey of self-discovery forms the movie’s spine. Hjejle's Liva is a sturdy and fierce woman with a vein of vulnerability, bringing an invigorating balance to Berthelsen's Kresten. Amid all the dynamics, Asholt's portrayal of Rud is heartwarmingly engaging. These characters join forces to form an unconventional family, genuinely affecting in its emotional complexity.

While Mifune deals with serious themes, it is also replete with light-hearted and humorous undertones making it an experience that is deeply touching whilst pleasantly entertaining. The title "Mifune," infuses a sense of fantasy into the film. Kresten and Rud often play a game pretending to be cowboys and Indians or samurais symbolizing escapism and their longing for a life more gallant and thrilling, differentiating the rough practicalities of their actual existence.

Mifune excels in creating an intimate cinema experience, where the line between fiction and reality feels seamless. By observing the characters in their most vulnerable states and getting insight into their starkly contrasting lives, we can’t help but question the choices and decisions we make in our own lives.

In conclusion, Mifune's enduring appeal hinges on its unique blend of authentic, grounded storytelling, outstanding performances, and a harmonious blend of various moods. Kragh-Jacobsen's imaginative direction and the unforgettable performances by Hjejle, Berthelsen and Asholt, result in a film that is not only reflective of the Dogme 95 ethos, but stands as an exceptional piece of cinema on its own terms. Mifune successfully balances the thin line between the grittiness of reality and the allure of fiction, making it an intriguing cinematic exploration of life.

Mifune is a Drama, Comedy, Romance movie released in 2000. It has a runtime of 97. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.1. It also holds a MetaScore of 57.

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7.1/10
57/100
Director
Soren Kragh-Jacobsen
Stars
Anders W. Bertelsen, Søren Fauli
Also starring Iben Hjejle
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