Directed by Thomas Vinterberg
April 25, 27 at Scandinavia House's "New Nordic Cinema"
Submarino, adapted from a 2007 Danish novel, has the same nose—and similar scars—as The Celebration, its sibling and the first born to the Dogme 95 gang. Not quite the same eyes, however—over a decade later, director Thomas Vinterberg has parted with the movement's aesthetic principles, or perhaps imparted them to the two hapless brothers of his latest film, in whose lives there is certainly nothing extra: just fine-grained, pure misfortune.
Inheriting trauma and tendencies from an alcoholic mom who came home only to pass out and soil herself, Nick (Jakob Cedergren)—a solid and solitary hulk, wary to communicate except through time-tested channels of sex & violence—stays the course, packing his gym bag with beer. His mostly estranged brother (Peter Plaugborg) in the meantime has acquired a young son and a heroin habit, both of which he's having trouble funding. A familiar tread—bleakness, darkness, redemption?—is itself redeemed by performances which make immediate the trouble we know to expect.
Despite being made by a cast and crew composed halfway of non-professionals—this constraint imposed, for a change, by funding—Submarino looks crisp enough, and its structure, keeping the brothers separate in their timelines until the final crisis, transcends conceit. Vinterberg has said that working with first-timers has brought him, after a shaky period, back to his roots, in Dogme or even earlier, and the Nordic Council agrees—the drama won top Scandinavian honors in 2010, a year after its mischievous cuz, von Trier's Antichrist.