Chaos Reigns: Our Review of ‘The Idiots’ on MUBI Canada

Posted in Mubi by - July 07, 2023
Chaos Reigns: Our Review of ‘The Idiots’ on MUBI Canada

A group of middle class adults plan a day trip. One of these adults, Jeppe (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) keeps retying the knows that should secure a wheelchair that they’ll need for the trip. His friend Katrine (Anne-Grethe Bjarup Riis) decides to be on tying duty and tells him to get in the car. The group often take these trips. They leave the exurban mansion where they live to go into town to pretend to be special needs people. They do so to see how the normals react. In The Idiots, director and writer Lars von Trier uses his early shakycam style to follow the titular group of friends.

The dramedy chronicles their last days together, interviewing each member about how the feel about each other, especially the group’s last addition. That addition is Karen (Bodil Jørgensen), who attaches herself to fellow commune member Susanne (Anne Louise Hassing). She also witnesses the antics of the group’s de facto leader Stoffer (Jens Albinus). Stoffer reluctantly sells the mansion where they live, and maybe because of that, he pushes the group to their limit.

The Idiots is the kind of film that will make its viewers go back and forth on its success in delivering its statements. The first hump, of course, is realizing that there is a point to pretending to be special needs. The other bumps on the road is whether or not its statements on mental illness and society are deep enough. A few of those scenes involve Stoffer. In one of those, Stoffer goes to a female locker room and gets an erection whole shower room (yes, that’s Albinus’ real erection). In another, he leaves Jeppe with a bunch of bikers.

The camera then captures the second that involes Stoffer’s fake birthday party where he requests that the group participate in a ‘gang bang’. The gang bang is actually an orgy (porn actors play stand ins during moments of unsimulated penetration). Off in a different room, Jeppe and Josephine (Louise Mieritz) have sex. This is probably one of the most heartfelt sex scenes in all of cinema. But it reinforces the film’s point that even exploitative environments reward the people under that exploitation, which is typical of von Trier being right even if he’s out line. The Idiots is von Trier telling his viewers that we live in a society.

This is  the kind of message that art house viewers often see in Germanic auteur shock jock work. As I write this though, it doesn’t mean that he’s wrong about the outside society. Society is not just ‘crazier’ but actually cruel. It’s heartbreaking to see Josephine’s dad take her away from the commune. This film is a reminder that sometimes social structures should allowe people to be their true selves. Von Trier, by the way, is neuroatypical in real life, and other critics have alluded to this in context of how Scandinavia surprisingly deals with people who aren’t typical mental nor physical shape. Knowing this can shape how viewers see this film even if yes, this doesn’t excuse his problematic statements.

The Idiots is a MUBI Canada exculsive. The platform is showing a restored and uncut version of the film that still captures its rawness.

This post was written by
While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
Comments are closed.
(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-61364310-1', 'auto'); ga('send', 'pageview');