De Unge Ar
Jacob Thuesen :: Denmark :: 2007 :: 1h32
With the script written by the provocative Lars von Trier, Erik Nietzsche is a lightly veiled ironic autobiography. The young Erik, a dreamy, naive social incompetent, is rejected from one school after another, until, by a miraculous coincidence, he is admitted into the Copenhagen film academy. At the impoverished, grotty film school, the poor fellow does not book much progress in any direction – he remains as awkward as he was when he started, and his lack of artistic vision or talent does not help either. His teachers are equally incompetent, his fellow students no better, and the general educational system employed by the school is silly. This could have had the ingredients of an amusing absurd flashback into the past, but the biggest problem with this all, is that it is not funny enough.
Interwoven into the main story-line, we get to see collages of images and a series of bad little films made by the students. This variation alleviates the boredom, but does not argue in favour of dedicating time to the production. All the characters walking around in this film academy are repulsive, leaving the viewer with nobody to cheer for. Erik, the main character, is so passive a loser that you can not expect him to ever get anywhere, in this cruel world, or any other. He does, however, adapt himself somewhat, not to his credit, taking over characteristics of this world in which he finds himself. Of course, that does not make him any more interesting as a character, nor does it make the film any better. That such a dropout at such an institution would later give the world the likes of Dogville, as Lars von Trier does, is completely unbelievable.
As the story drags on, the audience becomes less and less interested in what can only be far from the biographical truth. The Danish master may have studied at a worthless film academy, but he must have learnt something about cinema somewhere. The climax American pretentious “I’m the best” speech in reply to the badgering of the incompetent professors is just beyond cheesy. If you really want to see this movie out of principle, choose a cinema-café where you can talk through it – one and a half hours of this in silence is really just pushing it a little too far.