The Kingdom: Exodus (Riget: Exodus)
Doppelgängers, owls that are not what they seem, significative white noise and a show-within-a-show… No, it is not Twin Peaks in the lineup at this year’s festival in Venice, but Lars von Trier’s final return to his 1994 hospital series The Kingdom.
Exodus’s protagonist is Karen (Bodil Jørgensen), who watches The Kingdom rigorously. One night, while sleepwalking, she drives to the hospital in search of Drusse and Lillebror. The receptionist denies the existence of these characters and curses the show for attracting visitors like her. Nevertheless, the lady persists and finally finds support from an orderly, who helps her investigate the myth-enshrouded location. Meanwhile, Helmer Jr (Mikael Persbrandt), a renowned Swedish doctor whose father has history with the clinic, arrives in Denmark and is subjected to a patriotic tug-of-war by the hospital staff. His progressive initiative to eradicate assigned genders almost proves fatal as the wrong patient is operated upon.
The Kingdom: Exodus largely feels like a tribute to Lars von Trier’s career, a revisiting of his early work with a cast comprised of frequent collaborators and cameo appearances. The camerawork is filled with the wobbly handheld shots that distinguished the Dogme 95 movement.
No stranger to provocation, von Trier ventures into some dangerous political terrain with his mockery of feminist efforts, gender equality and proclaiming a hubris of science in the opening titles. (The irony of the show premiering at a location where the bathroom break between episodes three and four was impeded by the gender segregation of toilets should be evident.)
Nevertheless the dark humour is The Kingdom: Exodus’s best quality as many of the fantastical elements feel like unimaginative and half-baked ideas and the resolution disappoints. “Everything is stolen,” the director’s note proclaims at the end, taking the easy way out.
The Kingdom: Exodus (Riget: Exodus) is released on Mubi in autumn 2022.
Read more reviews from our Venice Film Festival 2022 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Venice Film Festival website here.
Watch a clip from The Kingdom: Exodus (Riget: Exodus) here: