Gud Taler Ud (Word of God)London Film Festival 2017
5th October 2017 6.15pm at Curzon Mayfair
7th October 2017 3.15pm at BFI Southbank (NFT)
A patriarch called God (Soren Malling) rules the roost over an unconventional Danish family in Henrik Ruben Genz’s Word of God, a film that is both eccentrically funny and poignantly dramatic. An exploration of human quirkiness, the piece reveals the personalities and intimate lives of its characters with depth and affection.
A cooking scene – that might bring to mind paintings by Vermeer – introduces the story, featuring God’s special onion soup, a mandatory watery dish that no one likes. It is clear that this father dominates his family with an iron fist. Insisting on scheduled sex with his wife (Lisa Nilsson) on Tuesdays and Saturdays, he is intolerant of his religious convert son, and has driven another son to agoraphobia – having dropped out of school, the latter occupies himself with speed-masturbation record breaking. God forbids anyone to take medication, refuses to set foot in a church, even for his offspring’s wedding, and mocks the overweight. He orders his youngest child to become a writer, his own unrequited passion, which he rekindles after receiving disturbing, life-altering news.
Characterisations are complex. Despite God’s curmudgeonly autocracy, his Swedish wife holds the real power once she puts her foot down. His three sons – longing for just a hug from him – turn the tables on their father in frustration. God is his own worst enemy, believing he can achieve anything purely through his own will and not acknowledging the good others do for him. Attempting to write again, he calls his autobiography “Mein Kampf”. But beneath his harshness, he hides gentleness, the soul of a poet and a deep thinker. His man cave is his “Arabic corner” where he becomes childlike, donning a Moroccan cap and isolating himself while smoking what appears to be opium.
Very rich in terms of characterisation and plot intricacies, the movie is superbly written. Smartly hilarious, with clever wording and metaphors, it is at once moving and sad and playfully tongue-in-cheek. The directing is impeccable and performances are excellent. All the actors are terrific, especially Malling. Camera work is essential to this film, and one of its best features, with gorgeous, immensely descriptive close-ups and brilliant editing. Unusual angles emphasise the narrative’s offbeat, idiosyncratic quality.
A wonderfully witty, essentially human work, Word of God inspires thought and is highly entertaining.
Gud Taler Ud (Word of God) does not have a UK release date yet.
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Watch the trailer for Gud Taler Ud (Word of God) here: