The Art of Crying



Final Cut Prods.

NEW YORK -- This slice of Nordic doom and gloom envelops the gruesome behavior of its subjects in a jaunty charm. The story of a dysfunctional family with a tyrannical, child-abusing father ambles along like a gentle pastoral tale. The clash of style and subject matter ultimately proves quite startling, as does the movie's capacity for meting out forgiveness. But its relentlessly despairing tone will make it a hard sell overseas. The Danish film screened at the EFP New York Industry Screenings.

"The Art of Crying," directed by Peter Schonau Fog from a novel by Erling Jepsen, is told from the point of view of 11-year-old Allan (Jannik Lorenzen). Allan is in the thrall of his unsavory father, Papa (Jesper Asholt), who suffers from an inferiority complex and bullies his two children. Papa uses Allan to keep tabs on daughter Sanne (Julie Kolbeck), especially when she's dating. Suspicions about Papa's overzealous investigations into Sanne's romances are confirmed when he's revealed as an incestuous child molester.

The script, by Bo Hr Hansen, cleverly expresses the nonjudgmental view of a child who doesn't know any better. Allan doesn't realize that there's anything wrong with his family and is quite proud of his father until it dawns on him that Papa's relationship with Sanne is not quite right. The mother, played by Hanne Hedelund, is a study in cowardice, allowing the abuse to continue. The film also examines how rural isolation can build close-knit communities oblivious to general standards of right and wrong.

Performances are all above par, with Asholt managing to immerse himself in the role of a child abuser.