The Idiots (Idioterne) (Dogma 95) Reviews

Page 1 of 29
Super Reviewer
October 27, 2010
Wonderful on many levels - as an (aborted) excursion into a new film form, and the bizarre attention that it brought to the progenitor who immediately abandoned it; as a source of perverse entertainment turned desperate tragedy; as a look into metafilm and levels of reality. It doesn't seem like there's a lot going on in The Idiots, but between its guiltless waltzing from genre to genre, the clashing ideologies of both the characters and the story itself, and the greater ramifications of being a Dogme 95 film and what it's implicitly saying about its cast and director, there's some serious thought behind that ugly exterior. This will not be an easy watch for many understandable reasons, and I think it's fair to call it offensive, obnoxious or even incomplete. I just think it's fascinating. I enjoyed watching the film with the Dogme Vow of Chastity in mind and wondering what limitations that imposed on von Trier and his crew. The performances he draws from his cast, unhesitantly authentic, are also enthralling when placed in a documentary context. Tensions were high between von Trier and his players, and there's a palpable parallel between how the "spassers" disintegrate and how his own harmonious set begins to fall apart. In fact, there's a very thorough and elaborate byline on which the events of this film, Dogme 95, and the work of Von Trier all operate, with thinly constructed notions of "reality" where other layers of their respective worlds can't help but leak in.

Maybe the film's success as a conventional narrative in the medium is arguable, but I think it's an excellent auteurial curio and an exceptional think piece. It's also sort of hilarious in a way that becomes very dark with a gut-punch of an ending. As with just about all of von Trier's work - not for everyone, but worth at least giving a shot.
deano
Super Reviewer
½ September 30, 2010
Astounding, brave, funny and touching cult film. I find it hard to understand how so much has been said about the "lack" of production values or the nudity in this movie, which to me aren't even worth mentioning, but hardly anyone comments about how astounding the ACTING is! The actors in this, and in Lars Von Triers' previous Breaking The Waves, display completely realistic acting very rarely (if ever!) seen in Hollywood.
But if you want a funny, dirty, smart, irritating, and even infuriating satire of both the bourgeoisie and the bohemians who oppose it, then The Idiots is for you. Von Trier has assembled a furiously talented cast of unknowns to spin this tale of a Danish commune that pretends - to the horror of the middle class masses that surround it - to be a private institution for "retards" and "spastics".
arashxak
Super Reviewer
½ September 28, 2009
Ok, Vinterberg's Festen was a great start to Dogme 95 but Lars von Trier's Idioterne as the second Dogme 95 film is a huge disappointment, Pretentious & dumb to the core
Super Reviewer
½ March 22, 2007
This is a really strange movie, but I kind of liked it. I think it kind of ran out of steam near the end, but it was pretty funny. It's hard to imagine someone pulling off a premise like this with any type of skill - I mean, look at The Ringer. I'm not even entirely sure what it was about this movie I liked. It is something to see, though.
Super Reviewer
½ November 10, 2011
Lars Von Trier's "The Idiots" was the second feature made under the prickly "Dogme 95" manifesto, which dictates severe limitations such as on-location shooting, hand-held camera, no extravagant action and purely diegetic music (this film's only score is some lonely quotes from Saint-Saens, played on what sounds like one-finger accordion). The rules obviously don't forbid letting the boom mike slip into the frame, however -- this happens countless times here.

Such factors would make any movie rather rough and inaccessible, but the premise of "The Idiots" is amply abrasive on its own. A troop of twentysomething rebels go around twitching and mugging like mentally disabled misfits, enjoying the public embarrassment they cause. Seemingly, this represents some sort of political protest -- they revel in the resulting freedom that they couldn't have otherwise? Such scenes are predictably hard to watch, and even go so far as one prankster letting a man take him to a urinal and hold his penis for him. And that's not the only explicit image -- there's also a tight shot of another actor's erection, a sustained view of thrusting sexual penetration and various other moments of casual nudity. Rest assured that none of this is remotely arousing.

We experience these antics through the eyes of Karen, a withdrawn, fragile woman who has been newly lured into joining the group. She is not too likable (none of the characters are) but, eventually, the film gains some shape through filling in her background.

If you think Harmony Korine is an overlooked genius, you will love "The Idiots." Otherwise, you'll find this an interesting experiment at best.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
May 9, 2014
As if "Epidemic" didn't have an obvious enough title, this film's title just goes ahead and lets you know how exactly Lars von Trier seems to feel about human beings. At the very least, it makes this film sound like a sitcom or something, something that it probably is, that is, for someone as disturbed as Lars von Trier. Shoot, I joke, but idiots and sitcoms go together like a Lars von Trier film and a deep reassessment on your views of humanity, so maybe this technically is a sitcom, only, you know, not nearly as popular as the usual one. Maybe this thing would have stood a chance of being a huge commercial success if it featured people like Emily Watson or Bj÷rk... neither of whom made this film's fellow "Golden Heart Trilogy" installments, "Breaking the Waves" and "Dancer in the Dark", especially bit commercial successes. Still, those films are, in fact, more popular, and quite honestly, I can't help but feel that it's largely because where "Breaking the Waves" and "Dancer in the Dark" were in English that was about as comprehensive as a Scottish Emily Watson and a Czech Bj÷rk could make it, this film is Danish, because, you know, a Danish-language middle installment worked so well for von Trier's "Europa" trilogy. You people probably don't know what I'm talking about, because "Epidemic" was by no means memorable, partly because it's title wasn't too much less creative than this film's. Now, this film itself, however, is about as interesting as "Epidemic", despite its carrying a few intriguing traits, or at least intriguing performances.

Interestingly enough, the film is largely about folks pretending to be developmentally retarded, but the problem with that, outside of it being a premise that is too weird for its own good, the performances are perhaps more convincing than they ought to be, defining impressive transformative performances, as surely as the occasional dramatic note defines near-powerful performances. On the whole, there's not a whole lot of material for the performers to work with, for there is only so much material to begin with, yet the fact of the matter is that competence is consistent in the performers, and by no means completely absent from Lars von Trier's performances, even as screenwriter. Abstractionist something awful and reportedly completed within four days, von Trier's script is by no means anything to write home about on the whole, but it has its moments, with occasions of clever dialogue, and even a few colorful set pieces which actually proves to be sort of entertaining, or at least complimentary to the selling of questionable subject matter. Obviously, this film isn't that interesting, as it is generally misguided as an abstractionist drama whose weird premise is far from its most disconcertingly strange aspect, but there's a certain intrigue to its sheer, gutsy originality, alone, and its themes on social criticism are also unique and intriguing, with conceptual narrative potential that goes firmly betrayed in a lot of ways by an overtly experimental execution. That being said, no matter how artistically misguided, von Trier's direction has its commendable aspects, utilizing an intentionally amateur and naturalist visual style that, while technically questionable to the point of being aesthetically distancing, is refreshing and rather immersive, while also meeting occasions of genuine material with a thoughtfulness that draws out some adequate resonance. Mind you, von Trier never abandons the thoughtfulness, so when material lapses, as it ever so often does, the film crashes as near-tedious, and it's not like the heights in inspiration are all that soaring, because the film is too minimalist to be all that impressive at any point, yet the strengths stand. Alas, they cannot drive the final product beyond mediocrity that is actually kind of lucky to achieve, having its strengths and intrigue, but generally falling flat, even technically.

Falling firm into the Dogme '95 Manifesto which demands hyper naturalism and extreme minimalism to, if any filmmaking flare, the film is among the first shot entirely on digital, and in an amateur, very home video fashion at that, with noisy and cinematographically flat video quality which, while immersive in its naturalism, is aesthetically and subjectively questionable in its distancing simplicity. Of course, the film's visual style is not the only problematic form of style here, because it's storytelling, of all things, that is most overstylized, with an intentionally disjointed and unfocused narrative style that abstractly meanders along, saying little, even about its characters. No matter how convincing the performers are, there's not much to sell the characters who stand centered at what focus there is to this intimate film, as immediate development is barely present, while gradual exposition proves to be lacking, and character focus proves to be uneven, keeping you distant from characters who are disconcerting enough in their questionable, if not unlikable traits. The premise behind this film isn't all that believable, and that makes it hard to buy in on Lars von Trier's trademark themes on humanity deconstruction, even though you might would have stood a chance of getting invested in this character study if more was fleshed out. Of course, as much as the film tightens things up by thinning out exposition, when it drags, it drags something fierce, for although there was never to be too much material in this aggressively minimalist affair, a runtime of almost two hours is meandered to with the help of exhaustingly repetitious filler, if not sheer nothingness that is tedious enough on paper. Von Trier makes things even worse as director, abandoning atmospherics with a thoughtfulness that, no matter how effective during the occasions in which actual material kicks in, dries things out punishingly, with a dullness that is aggravating enough when von Trier doesn't place pretense into what atmosphere there is. I suppose von Trier's ambition is mostly charming, as it's not like the uniqueness and inspired highlights aren't worth respecting, but on the whole, von Trier tries too hard to do little, and that's challenging, maybe not to the point of destroying the film, but certainly to the point of rendering the final product mightily misguided.

Overall, the performances are convincing and the script and subject matter are often intriguing in their uniqueness and occasional effectiveness, while stylistic and atmospheric highlights to direction secure glimpses of a more decent film, ultimately lost in the wake of questionable technical value, storytelling and characterization which, all behind a tediously draggy and dryly, if not somewhat pretentiously told narrative, drive Lars von Trier's "The Idiots" into mediocrity as a refreshing, but artistically misguided bore.

2.25/5 - Mediocre
Janno Datinguinoo
Super Reviewer
½ March 2, 2012
The cinematic equivalent of a knife in your gut. The Idiots is altogether a complex, maddening, devastating, kaleidoscopic one-of-a-kind viewing experience. Compared to its more triumphant film-brother Festen, this is an underrated Dogme 95 work that lobs a searing, scathing critique to society, Hollywood and sanitised audience expectations.
Super Reviewer
November 19, 2009
I have intense admiration for this film based on principle alone. It's an excellent feat for any filmmaker to make such a legitimately bold and original work. The amazing thing is that Von Trier doesn't just make something unique, but something intricate and profound and upsetting and hilarious. And, according to production stories, he wrote the screenplay in under a week. This is one of the groundbreaking movies of the 1990s, and it features a cast of some of the best actors I have ever seen. Every single performance in this film is pitch-perfect... characterization does not get more detailed than this.
Super Reviewer
August 25, 2012
The idiots is Lars von Trier's shocking black comedy, which is also his first attempt at Dogma 95. The idiots explored the eccentricity of a group of adults in their protest of the responsibilities they need to make as adults. The humour is too crude for my taste. It felt like porn at some stages, but I can honestly say it's the paramount of experimental films. I don't think I can look at Denmark again the same way after this film.
shitfaced8
Super Reviewer
April 30, 2010
Controversial director Lars Von Triers first and only 'official' Dogme film is an intresting and often humourous exploration of outsiders who impersonate mentally handicapped people to scam the upper and middle classes out of their money and to break out of the confines of square society. The results are pretty good and there is a lot to enjoy here if you enjoy lo-fi movies that are more idea based than story or character. Not to say the film is absent of story or characters, where it really works is in it's ideas though, both stylistically and conceptually. The film isn't going to be for everybody and I can't even quite put my finger on what I enjoyed so much about this one, where I can with the other Von Trier films I have seen thus far. This is only the second official Dogme film I've seen (the first being Harmony Korines Julien Donkey Boy, one of my favourite films ever). I have to say that I really like this style. It basically takes a shit on boring big budget Hollywood movies that I despise and represents Hollywoods antithesis. Squares should be warned that there is some unsimulated sex in this movie, lots of nudity (both female and male) and the basic idea of the premise will make PC bores uncomfortable for sure so if these things bother you steer clear. Otherwise I'd recommend this film to all fans of alternative/bizarre/strange film.
Super Reviewer
February 27, 2009
My first Von Trier experience, and I was greeted by a complex film about young educated professionals who looks at idiocy as a means to escape reality. The film almost runs like a documentary, filled with natural performances by the unknown actors. At first, it almost runs like a comedy, but the second-half immediately became more emotional. The sex sequences might disgust some, especially the split second penetration scene and many frontal nudities, but I am sure that there is something deeper about this film that I can't really quite pinpoint. The final heart-wrenching scene was the film's best moment, a scene with such simple images but blew me away with the intensely subtle emotions surrounding the scene. "The Idiots" is an overkill in terms of the graphic sexual encounters, but in terms of the meaning, it is very deep and that it is relevant to our society today. "It is not me who pokes fun, it is THEM who pokes fun", mentions the leader Stoffer, and for a moment, I thought he was right.
½ September 28, 2008
Brilliantly shot, amazing acting. I love everything about the feeling of this, and how interpretive it is.
½ June 27, 2008
I assumed a movie about a group of people pretending to be retartded for "kicks" would be anarchic mess that would run it's course after about a half hour. Lars Von Trier's "The Idiots" however is an absorbing drama about a group of people who collectively begin rejecting sense, but all for their own reasons. Some are just there to have a good time, other's are there for philosophical and political reasons, to some it's a grand experiment, an excuse to be naughty, to go off your meds for awhile, or to avoid their own fractured personal lives. The group becomes a commune, of sorts, that exists happliy until they are challenged to "spazz" not just with strangers and in the confines of the group, but in their personal lives. The real world begins trickling back in and the Idiots are faced with their final spazz and seperation.

A film that can cut from a gang bang to a girl loosing her virginity to the boy of her dreams, perfectly capturing the sweet and tenderness of one scene as well as the sweating, grunting, absurdity of another.

Anne Louise Hassing plays a woman who gets abducted into the group at random and decides to go with it, until her own reall life reappers. Theres a remarkable honesty and potencty in this Dogma 95 film, shot without makeup, artficial lighint, or music, this is about as real as fiction cinema gets. And though it sounds like a movie designed as "wierd" for "wierds" sake, it's deftly subtle making all the characters motivations understandable conflicting forces in the film. One man's dirty joke is another man's epiphany, and this film in the end is a good bit of both.
½ May 17, 2015
Provocative, perverse, twisted and highly offensive -- Lars von Trier's experimental film brings up a slew of cultural and societal issues. The entire film is intended to make the audience feel uncomfortable. The key to why it manages to work comes in the closing moments of the movie.
May 7, 2015
Imperfectamente perfecta. Vanguardista y antisistema tanto en su tÚcnica como en su discurso.
May 7, 2015
Imperfectamente perfecta. Vanguardista y antisistema tanto en su tÚcnica como en su discurso.
March 25, 2015
Stupid, empty, useless. And deadly boring, that is the worst thing.
And really nothing new: "experiments" of this kind - including explicit penetration, has already been done in the 70s, and then abandoned.
Fortunately, after this horror, the infamous dogma 95 has been abandoned. But it had the time to make some damage, the worst being this "The idiots"
½ August 18, 2014
Von Trier with disappointing ending.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
May 9, 2014
As if "Epidemic" didn't have an obvious enough title, this film's title just goes ahead and lets you know how exactly Lars von Trier seems to feel about human beings. At the very least, it makes this film sound like a sitcom or something, something that it probably is, that is, for someone as disturbed as Lars von Trier. Shoot, I joke, but idiots and sitcoms go together like a Lars von Trier film and a deep reassessment on your views of humanity, so maybe this technically is a sitcom, only, you know, not nearly as popular as the usual one. Maybe this thing would have stood a chance of being a huge commercial success if it featured people like Emily Watson or Bj÷rk... neither of whom made this film's fellow "Golden Heart Trilogy" installments, "Breaking the Waves" and "Dancer in the Dark", especially bit commercial successes. Still, those films are, in fact, more popular, and quite honestly, I can't help but feel that it's largely because where "Breaking the Waves" and "Dancer in the Dark" were in English that was about as comprehensive as a Scottish Emily Watson and a Czech Bj÷rk could make it, this film is Danish, because, you know, a Danish-language middle installment worked so well for von Trier's "Europa" trilogy. You people probably don't know what I'm talking about, because "Epidemic" was by no means memorable, partly because it's title wasn't too much less creative than this film's. Now, this film itself, however, is about as interesting as "Epidemic", despite its carrying a few intriguing traits, or at least intriguing performances.

Interestingly enough, the film is largely about folks pretending to be developmentally retarded, but the problem with that, outside of it being a premise that is too weird for its own good, the performances are perhaps more convincing than they ought to be, defining impressive transformative performances, as surely as the occasional dramatic note defines near-powerful performances. On the whole, there's not a whole lot of material for the performers to work with, for there is only so much material to begin with, yet the fact of the matter is that competence is consistent in the performers, and by no means completely absent from Lars von Trier's performances, even as screenwriter. Abstractionist something awful and reportedly completed within four days, von Trier's script is by no means anything to write home about on the whole, but it has its moments, with occasions of clever dialogue, and even a few colorful set pieces which actually proves to be sort of entertaining, or at least complimentary to the selling of questionable subject matter. Obviously, this film isn't that interesting, as it is generally misguided as an abstractionist drama whose weird premise is far from its most disconcertingly strange aspect, but there's a certain intrigue to its sheer, gutsy originality, alone, and its themes on social criticism are also unique and intriguing, with conceptual narrative potential that goes firmly betrayed in a lot of ways by an overtly experimental execution. That being said, no matter how artistically misguided, von Trier's direction has its commendable aspects, utilizing an intentionally amateur and naturalist visual style that, while technically questionable to the point of being aesthetically distancing, is refreshing and rather immersive, while also meeting occasions of genuine material with a thoughtfulness that draws out some adequate resonance. Mind you, von Trier never abandons the thoughtfulness, so when material lapses, as it ever so often does, the film crashes as near-tedious, and it's not like the heights in inspiration are all that soaring, because the film is too minimalist to be all that impressive at any point, yet the strengths stand. Alas, they cannot drive the final product beyond mediocrity that is actually kind of lucky to achieve, having its strengths and intrigue, but generally falling flat, even technically.

Falling firm into the Dogme '95 Manifesto which demands hyper naturalism and extreme minimalism to, if any filmmaking flare, the film is among the first shot entirely on digital, and in an amateur, very home video fashion at that, with noisy and cinematographically flat video quality which, while immersive in its naturalism, is aesthetically and subjectively questionable in its distancing simplicity. Of course, the film's visual style is not the only problematic form of style here, because it's storytelling, of all things, that is most overstylized, with an intentionally disjointed and unfocused narrative style that abstractly meanders along, saying little, even about its characters. No matter how convincing the performers are, there's not much to sell the characters who stand centered at what focus there is to this intimate film, as immediate development is barely present, while gradual exposition proves to be lacking, and character focus proves to be uneven, keeping you distant from characters who are disconcerting enough in their questionable, if not unlikable traits. The premise behind this film isn't all that believable, and that makes it hard to buy in on Lars von Trier's trademark themes on humanity deconstruction, even though you might would have stood a chance of getting invested in this character study if more was fleshed out. Of course, as much as the film tightens things up by thinning out exposition, when it drags, it drags something fierce, for although there was never to be too much material in this aggressively minimalist affair, a runtime of almost two hours is meandered to with the help of exhaustingly repetitious filler, if not sheer nothingness that is tedious enough on paper. Von Trier makes things even worse as director, abandoning atmospherics with a thoughtfulness that, no matter how effective during the occasions in which actual material kicks in, dries things out punishingly, with a dullness that is aggravating enough when von Trier doesn't place pretense into what atmosphere there is. I suppose von Trier's ambition is mostly charming, as it's not like the uniqueness and inspired highlights aren't worth respecting, but on the whole, von Trier tries too hard to do little, and that's challenging, maybe not to the point of destroying the film, but certainly to the point of rendering the final product mightily misguided.

Overall, the performances are convincing and the script and subject matter are often intriguing in their uniqueness and occasional effectiveness, while stylistic and atmospheric highlights to direction secure glimpses of a more decent film, ultimately lost in the wake of questionable technical value, storytelling and characterization which, all behind a tediously draggy and dryly, if not somewhat pretentiously told narrative, drive Lars von Trier's "The Idiots" into mediocrity as a refreshing, but artistically misguided bore.

2.25/5 - Mediocre
Page 1 of 29