by Thomas Vinterberg
It's summertime in Denmark, and at the Great House a celebration is about to begin: Helge Klingenfeldt, patriarch and lord of the manor, is turning sixty.
Invitations have been issued, the seating plan drawn up, and now the guests' cars are pulling onto the courtyard outside the main steps: friends, relatives, and of course, the patriarch's next of kin: Elsa, his wonderful wife, and their three grown-up children, Christian, Michael, and Helene. The head of the family is to be fêted in a way nobody will ever forget.
Nor do they; the patriarch least of all. Because despite all the careful preparations, the celebration turns out to be a surprise party.
Helge's eldest son, Christian, has restaurants in France, but he has come home for the party. He is summoned to his father's study for a man to man chat: will Christian please say a few words at the dinner about his twin sister, Linda, who died last year? The birthday boy is afraid he will start blubbing, as he puts it. Christian says that in fact he has already written a few words for the occasion.
As the arrivals are shown to their accommodations, Helene decides to take Linda's old room, which has remained unused since her death. It is as if Linda is present.
The younger brother, Michael, also turns up noisily with his wife and kids, although he wasn't invited-he failed to attend his sister's funeral.
Below stairs things are a-bustle: fine wines have been brought up from the wine cellars, the fish soup is ready to go, the venison is in the oven. The chef, Kim, is master down here; as Christian's boyhood friend he has his own views on the company and the centre of attention today.
In the banqueting hall upstairs, where the guests are in high spirits, the waiters and chambermaids are on parade. Among the latter, Pia has an eye for Christian, whereas last year Michelle had more time for Michael than Michael's wife, Mette, would approve of.
Dusk falls. The master of ceremonies introduces himself and announces that dinner is served.
Nobody smells a rat when Christian gets to his feet to keep the promise he made to his father.
Christian is the only person present who knows that soon the world will know the naked truth about his family and the reason why he lost his twin sister.
Christian is the only person who knows that it will be a night nobody will ever forget, however much they might want to.
Tjomas Bo Larsen
Nimbus Film ApS
in collaboration with DRTV & SVT DRAMA with support from the Nordisk Film & TV-Fond.
Format: 35mm / Color / 1:1,37 / 106 min
Original language: Danish