The Art of Crying

Section: Foam of the Days
Directed by: Peter Schonau Fog

Kunsten at graede i kor
Denmark, 2006

Dir.: Peter Schonau Fog
Scr.: Bo Hr. Hansen (based on Erling Jepsen's novel)
Phot.: Harald Gunnar Paalgard
Editor: Anne Osternd
Cast: Jannik Lorenzen, Jesper Asholt, Julie Kolbech, Hanne Heldelund
Format: 35 mm 
106 mins
Contact: Danish Film Institute


Peter Schonau Fog’s intense and unsettling film is a domestic drama-cum-horror movie, based on the celebrated novel by the Danish writer Erling Jepsen. The film follows precocious, eleven-year-old Allan who is trying desperately to keep his dysfunctional, rural family together during the social upheavals of the early seventies. Allan reveres his father, Henry, the local milkman, and can’t understand why others don’t feel the same way. His family life is so twisted he thinks it’s perfectly normal to stay awake all night dealing with his father’s hysterics and suicidal threats. Allan’s older brother left town several years ago, and his mother gave up long before that, relying on sleeping pills to escape Henry’s tantrums. Allan is frustrated that his mother doesn’t take his father’s complaints seriously, and is perplexed by the increasingly rebellious and bizarre behaviour of his sister, Sanne. Incapable of understanding what’s going on and heavily influenced by his father, Allan commits appaling acts, unaware of their import.

While Schonau Fog uses his powerfully austere style (the early scenes have an almost tableau-like feel) to heighten the sense of entrapment, he also leavens the proceedings with comedy, though it’s very much of the dark and sinister variety. The few extended family get-togethers are horrific and comic. No villain could be more publicly unimposing than Henry, who is virtually anonymus to the townspeople  - or more tyrannical at home, where his nightly tirades terrorize everyone. The Art of Crying chillingly dramatizes  the gap between the innocent idealism of childhood beliefs and the starker reality of adulthood. Emotionally devastating and astonishingly mature, this is a unique feature debut.

See also:
Breaking the Surface Let the Right One in
This Is England Tricks
Under the Stars The Unpolished
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