See This: Mifune

Anders Berthelsen and Iben Hjejle in Mifune
Anders Berthelsen and Iben Hjejle in Mifune




The title is a reference to Toshiro Mifune, the Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s favourite actor. He died as the film went into production and director Søren Kragh-Jacobsen and writer Anders Thomas Jensen came up with the title as a way of honouring him. So, no, this isn’t Japanese arthouse; it’s Danish. Which will scare a few people off, most likely. Scarier still, Mifune follows the Dogma commandments – the puritanical, ornament-free film-making style that has Hollywood-lovers reaching for their revolvers. The story is similarly bare-bones: the wife (it’s Sofie Gråbøl, later of The Killing fame) of a newly married man (Anders Berthelsen) is far from happy when she discovers his secret history – rural upbringing, idiot brother, mad hermit dad (deceased) – every city-dweller’s stereotyped image of backwoods weird. In fact once she realises just how offbeat the family is she leaves her husband, forcing him to look after his genuinely disturbed brother on his own. Incidentally, one of the ways Berthelsen keeps his brother happy is by dressing up as a samurai (another nod to Mifune, star of The Seven Samurai). Overwhelmed, he eventually advertises for a housekeeper to help share the load. She, when she arrives, is Iben Hjejle (highly familiar if you’ve seen High Fidelity) who is, of course, a runaway prostitute with a skipload of troubles of her own. If Mifune looks at first like formidable arthouse, it turns out in fact to be a charmingly tender romance. And it’s all played out against rural scenery so enticing that it will have you on the phone to DanAir the minute the film’s over.

© Steve Morrissey 2013


Mifune – at Amazon





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Mifune (1999) Romance, Comedy, Drama | 98min | 1 October 1999 (UK) 7.1
Director: Søren Kragh-JacobsenWriter: Anders Thomas Jensen, Søren Kragh-JacobsenStars: Iben Hjejle, Anders W. Berthelsen, Jesper AsholtSummary: Kresten has moved from his parents farm on a small Danish island to Copenhagen in order to pursue his working career. When his father dies he has to move back to the farm, where nothing much has happened since he left. He places an ad in the local newspaper to get help running the farm and taking care of his mentally disabled brother. A prostitute named Liva, who is running away from annoying telephone calls, answers it. But running away from your past isn't easy. Written by Allan Simonsen


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