Released almost two years after its debut at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival, "Idiots" was the second film made under Dogme 95, an artistic movement whose tenets (known as "Vows of Chastity") include using hand-held cameras and natural light and sound. Benefiting from a better screenplay than "The Celebration," the first Dogme film, "The "Idiots," written and directed by Lars von Trier, involves a group of young people who pretend to be mentally deficient to test the reaction of middle class society to their antics. Their activities range from drooling to more extreme forms of anarchic behavior. The "idiots" live in a house owned by the uncle of one of the members. Idiocy is used as an excuse to lose all restraint. A woman named Karen (Bodil Jorgensen) becomes fascinated by the group and eventually joins them.
The Dogme style of utilizing a handheld camera with occasionally distorted color fits into the directorial technique von Trier used in "The Kingdom" and "Breaking the Waves." The frequently blurred images reflect the group's feverish activities. Von Trier's energetic direction holds the sometimes unfocused film together. Though "Idiots" lacks the emotional depth of "Breaking the Waves," it is anchored by Jorgenson's bold performance as Karen, the only character whose motivations are satisfactorily explained.
Starring Bodil Jorgensen, Jens Albinus and Louise Hassing. Directed and written by Lars von Trier. Produced by Vibeke Windelov. A USA release. Rated R for strong sexuality and nudity, and for language. Running time: 114 min.