Denmark/Sweden 1999

Reviewed by Mark Sinker


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

Kresten has just married Claire, the daughter of his wealthy boss in Copenhagen, without telling them he has family back in rural Lolland. Their honeymoon is interrupted by news of his father's death. Kresten returns home to sort out the ruined family farm. Once there, he realises his idiot brother Rud cannot fend for himself, and advertises for a housekeeper.

Liva, a prostitute, takes the job. She has been whoring to pay for the welfare of her younger brother Bjarke, but is fleeing a persistent phone pervert in Copenhagen. Claire, arriving unexpectedly, takes Liva to be Kresten's mistress and leaves outraged. Bjarke, expelled from school, also comes to the farm. After learning Claire is seeking a divorce, a drunken Kresten forces himself on Liva. Bjarke, miserable at what he sees as her return to whoring, reveals he is the phone pervert. The next day, Liva walks out and goes to turn tricks at an nearby inn. She returns still angry, intending to return to Copenhagen, but while whitewashing she and Kresten make up. Three locals seeking Liva's professional service attack Kresten. She tends Kresten's wounds and they make love. Afterwards, as she sleeps, her prostitute friends arrive from Copenhagen: believing Kresten has just raped her, they also beat him up and whisk her off. When he regains consciousness, everyone is gone. After searching for Rud, who seems to have been kidnapped by aliens, Kresten arrives back at the farm to discover Liva, Rud and Bjarke waiting for him.


Directed by Danish youth-movie veteran Søren Kragh-Jacobsen, the third Dogma release Mifune seems to consider the Dogma 95 manifesto's claims to chastity, not as a commitment to genuine aesthetic or cultural purity, but as a publicity-stunt come-on of minor consequence. For if the manifesto were a critique of Hollywood or of anything else, the manifesto's eighth rule ("Genre films are unacceptable") would surely disallow any story centred on a whore-with-a-heart-of-gold. A whore, moreover, whose honest love redeems a man, freeing him from false idols and fear of his past. This is whiskery stuff, and while Dogmatic dodges with camera and lighting help Mifune stay amusing (and indeed watchable and fresh-looking), it's nevertheless a surprisingly conventional film, and so perhaps a faintly deflating addition to the canon. The arrival, too soon, of Dogma Lite.

The two previous Dogma movies, Festen and The Idiots, with their underfelt of edgy improvisation, made games-playing their subject and strategy. Mifune features a few sidelined games - Liva works as a dominatrix, Kresten's old neighbour and rival acts out as a rural bachelor Lothario - but there's little here to upset viewer expectations. Rud the idiot brother is (inevitably) a kind of savant; Bjarke the brat is, once given love, sensible, sensitive and perspicacious; and Kresten and Liva are decent through and through. The flat Lolland setting - potentially a very bleak region, of loneliness, ignorance and even madness - proves to be an emotional haven, its down-at-heel prettiness an unspoiled bedrock, a fictional dreamspace with flyblown decor.

Despite its look, in other words, everything is true to the film's sentimental film-world cliché. As a result, the various dilemmas and dangers can sometimes seem paper-thin. Just as Rud is never going to be abandoned or put in a home, we feel we know rather too early on that everything will turn out pretty well. As for the various worst possibilities we may entertain (such as the horrible plot turn that suggests itself during Rud's dive into a pond) we're generally importing expectations created elsewhere, particularly from our encounters with the darker imaginations of Vinterberg or von Trier.

None of it is intrinsically bad. The performances are universally engaging and plenty of scenes - the prostitutes as a girl-gang at a funfair, Rud's wrongfooting the priest at the funeral, the yokel tea party with flamenco guitar - are in and of themselves inventive pleasures, even if they serve mostly to reduce characters that, in other settings, would seem to promise a different and perhaps revelatory species of drama. But here too, expectation is bleeding in from outside. For it's not as if we've not been warned by the film's content and style. The Idiots arrived with an advance guard of scandal about its orgy scene. Mifune's bedroom stuff is played purely for farce, with decorous sheets draped in all the right places. Festen had a look, that scummy, shot-on-video look that dripped the poison of postmodern confessional nightmare into television slapstick (as in those You've Been Framed clips where the wedding goes wonky, and it's all captured on handicam). Mifune, by contrast, is shot on film, and very quickly comes across as unthreateningly solid and emotionally superficial.

Though only original in brief lurches, Mifune is never tiresome. In its way it's as meaninglessly diverting as the game Kresten plays with Rud, dressing up as Toshiro Mifune in The Seven Samurai (1954) and roaring round the house. But if disappointment arises mainly from the hopes that its subtitle Dogma 3 fosters, we should remember that we'd probably never have looked out for this film without it.


Birgitte Hald
Morten Kaufmann
Søren Kragh-Jacobsen
Anders Thomas Jensen
Søren Kragh-jacobsen
Director of Photography
Anthony Dod Mantle
Valdís Óskarsdóttir
©Nimbus Film II ApS
Production Companies
Nimbus Film presents
Produced by Nimbus Film in collaboration with Zentropa Entertainments, DRTV & SVT Drama, with support from Nordisk Film og TV Fond and Det Danske
Production Co-ordinator
Signe Jensen
Post-production Co-ordinator
Tove Jystrup
Assistant Director
Christian Grønvall
Script Supervisor
Louise N.D. Friedberg
Stine Brüel Casting
Story Consultant
Mogens Rukov
2nd Unit Director of Photography
Torben Forsberg
B Camera
Philip Forbes
2nd Unit:
Erik Thal-Jantzen
'Mifune' Harmonica:
Thor Backhausen
'Samurai' Flute:
Karl Bille
'Mifune' Guitar:
Christian Sievert
Jacob Moth
Jens E. Christensen
Edith Nielsen
"Nocturne No 9 Opus 2" by Frédéric Chopin, performed by Nulle & Verdensorkestret
Sound Recordists
Morten Degnbol
Hans Møller
2nd Unit:
Kristian E. Andersen
Iben Hjejle
Liva Psilander
Anders W. Berthelsen
Kresten Jensen
Jesper Asholt
Rud Jensen
Emil Tarding
Bjarke Psilander
Anders Hove
Gerner Mikkelsen
Sofie Gråbøl
Claire Hostrup-Jensen
Paprika Steen
Mette Bratlann
Susanne Storm
Ellen Hillingsø
Sidse Babett Knudsen
Søren Fauli
the voice
Søren Malling
Palle the pimp
Keld Nørgaard
Jørgen Hostrup, Claire's father
Kirsten Vaupel
Marianne Hostrup, Claire's mother
Torben Jensen
Hørsted-Petersen, older john
Klaus Bondam
Lene Laub Oksen
hooker 1
Line Kruse
hooker 2
Sofie Stougaard
Britta, bakery woman
Rasmus Haxen
Ole Møllegaard
Gerner's friends
Esben Pedersen
Karlo Jensen, dead father
Christian Sievert
Arthur Jensen
Albert Pedersen
Morten Flyverbom
Rud's friends
Christian Grønvall
Jens Basse Dam
Peter Rygaard
Dan Paustian
business types
Alliance Film Distributors
9,100 feet
101 minutes 7 seconds
In Colour
Aspect Ratio
Opening title reads
Dogme 3
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011