Film Review: "KLOWN"
Published: Thursday, August 2, 2012
Updated: Friday, August 3, 2012 06:08
Like “Heart of Darkness” if it were built around semen humor, “KLOWN”, from director Mikkel Nørgaard, gives us the kinkiest trip down a river since “DELIVERANCE”. Following buddies Frank and Casper as they go on their annual “Tour de Pussy” – an adulterous road trip filled with debauchery, drugs, and hookers - the film revels in its escalating sense of depraved madness. What brings the film from insane to inspired is the detail I omitted: in order to prove to his girlfriend Mia that he can be responsible, Frank brought along 12-year-old Bo. Oh, and he kidnapped Bo for the purpose. Oh, and all the sex, strip clubs, drugs and other fun? That’s all still on the agenda.
But is this anything more than a slightly more sophisticated (in craft, if not in humor) take on “THE HANGOVER”? After all, the similarities abound – not just in the plot, but also in specific scenes and, indeed, in the conclusion. What sets “KLOWN” apart more than anything is it’s very specific brand of eccentricity. Nørgaard strings together setups and payoffs with such over-the-top audacity (one gag, involving a whorehouse and something I will only refer to as a “schnozzle”, is brilliant in its simplicity) that it starts to feel unfair comparing his work to a film whose most revered moment is a character being catcalled as “Doctor Faggot”.
His purposefully-bare visual style, with its faux-on-the-fly compositions and copious zooms, never reaches the cinematic zeal that some of his Danish countrymen have achieved with the same aesthetic (and indeed, the story originated as a television show.) And those coming in entirely for shocks, be warned that they’re front loaded – a “jewelry” joke in the opening sequence sets the bar high, and the film rarely hurtles it (it’s as if they wanted to get the walk-outs out of the way early.) The occasional grasps at sentimentality, also, feel out of place and almost unearned; there are shades of “BAD SANTA”, and this doesn’t compare too favorably in the disgusting-man-relates-to-weird-kid believability index. But while the kink and the heart may not be parceled out evenly, the story is structured perfectly – the last shot may as well be the darkest corner of the jungle.
NOTE: "KLOWN" plays this weekend at the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square - 9:45PM and Midnight shows Friday through Sunday.