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Mifune's Last Song

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Mifune's Last Song is a critically acclaimed Danish romantic comedy-drama released in 1999. The film is the third entry in director Søren Kragh-Jacobsen's informal "Dogme 95" trilogy, following "The King Is Alive" (1997) and "The Idiots" (1998). In line with the manifesto's philosophy, the filming techniques are minimalistic by nature, using natural lighting, handheld cameras, and locations instead of sets. The realistic portrayal of characters and a brilliant mix of humor and drama do not just meet, but exceed, Dogme 95's story-first visions.

The film stars Iben Hjejle, Anders W. Berthelsen, and Jesper Asholt, whose performances are widely applauded. Hjejle, playing the role of a feisty, enigmatic sex-worker named Grace, brings in an intriguing depth and strength to her character. Berthelsen plays the timid Kresten, a successful businessman, who is forced to return to his rural childhood home after the sudden death of his father.

The film begins with a comic touch as the protagonist Kresten marries an upper-class woman and forgets to mention that he has a family living on a dilapidated farm back in his rural home town. However, he finds himself forced to confront his past when he receives news of his father's death on his wedding night. He hurriedly flies back to his family farm, where he finds his elder brother Rud, a mentally challenged man spectacularly portrayed by Jesper Asholt. Rud has been living alone since the departure of Kresten. Taking care of Rud and the shambled family farm turns out to be far from Kresten's metropolitan corporate lifestyle.

Enter Hjejle's character, Grace, a buoyant call-girl desperate to change her current circumstances. She answers Kresten's ad for a housekeeper and starts living on the farm. Soon, they find themselves entwined in a complex relationship, with an unexpected, profound connection growing between them. Grace's arrival adds a refreshing dimension to the secluded farm life, bringing a touch of tenderness, warmth, and at times, comic relief. Her relationship with the mentally challenged Rud, her attempts to understand him, and treat him with dignity and respect, are artfully depicted.

"Mifune's Last Song" is brilliantly engaging, unforgettable in its storytelling and portrayal of characters. Despite its simplicity, the film presents a complex narrative and tackles heavy themes like familial bonds, secrets, and acceptance with an impressive lightness of touch. The name of the movie is a tribute to Toshiro Mifune, a legendary Japanese actor known for his roles in films by Akira Kurosawa. The title refers to a role-playing game that Rud likes to play, where he pretends to be the late actor's character from "The Seven Samurai". This seemingly insignificant game adds another layer of depth to the film, depicting a metaphor for longing, loneliness, heroism and an escape from reality.

The film paints a vivid picture with its intense realism, rustic charm, and heartfelt character connections. Alongside the central characters, a host of secondary characters provide varying degrees of humor, drama, and emotional depth to this unique film, creating a contrast between the rural and metropolitan lifestyles. Kragh-Jacobsen carefully balances the melancholy with the comedic, thereby crafting a beautiful narrative where love blooms amidst the stark unevenness of life.

The performances of the lead trio stand out, their measured acting resonates with authenticity and captures the audience's attention throughout the cinema. The naturalistic dialogue, combined with handheld filming techniques, and beautiful Danish locations add to the film's charm, making it an emotionally resonant and visually appealing experience.

"Mifune's Last Song" is, at its core, a love story, but it extends beyond romantic love to address the love between familial bonds too. The film is an endearing mix of hilarity, romance, and drama, which tenderly unravels the complexities of human relationships in all their rawness and spectacle. The Dogme 95 style of filmmaking allows the story to take center stage, resulting in a highly emotive and enduring cinematic experience that leaves a lingering impression. A defining work in the Dogme 95 movement, "Mifune's Last Song" once again showcases Søren Kragh-Jacobsen's remarkable ability to present human experiences with honesty, grace, and humor.

Mifune's Last Song is a Drama, Comedy, Romance movie released in 1999. It has a runtime of 98 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.1. It also holds a MetaScore of 57.

Soren Kragh-Jacobsen
Iben Hjejle, Anders W. Berthelsen, Jesper Asholt
Also starring Iben Hjejle
Mifune's Last Song is available on .