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How to Get Rid of the Others
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by William Goss

"We the Ruthless People"
5 stars

SCREENED AT FANTASTIC FEST 2008: Even if one isn’t willing to buy into the dark, dark comedy that follows, the surreal shots that open 'How to Get Rid of the Others', during which a drinking, smoking, swearing woman on a motorized scooter finds herself abruptly airlifted – scooter and all – across miles and miles of Danish countryside, prove to be quite the hook for a tale that’s only marginally less absurd.

See, the government of Denmark has just instituted a widespread hush-hush initiative to round up those dregs of society that have proven most draining to welfare and other social services, the few that are in effect costing the many, and evaluating their individual worth under the threat of execution. No judge, no jury – after one interview with a military officer (Søren Pilmark) and social worker (Søren Fauli), those like our airborne curmudgeon are either set free or shot dead.

No, trust me, it is funny, very much so. The inception and execution of this policy is as universally astute as it is scarily practical (well, enough so to induce nervous laughter, anything to pick the ol’ jaw back up), and those subjected to it are just as realistically resistant to this sudden, violent wave of accountability (a re-education, as it were, aptly taking place in an occupied school, complete with a playground full of prisoners). Splitting screenplay credit with Rasmus Botoft, who plays one of the primary subjects, director Anders Rønnow Klarlund helps guide the varied reactions and revelations of this uniformly game ensemble somewhere between reluctant guffaws and as much pathos as these exaggerated circumstances allow, sticking the careful balance between the ridiculous and the reasonable that so few black comedies can claim.

It’s perhaps hypocritical to suggest that some foreign films are too good to merit remakes (the recent [REC] and Let the Right One In come to mind), while others are all but begging for it. The central concept at work here could translate with equal potency to American society (or any, for that matter), so stick George Clooney in this, and maybe Steven Soderbergh behind the camera, and the sparse direction and sharp screenplay would theoretically serve themselves just as well as they had in their native tongue if the ideas are left relatively intact.

Alas, until they figure out how to get rid of those pesky words on the screen, those willing to withstand them ought to keep an eye out for this wicked little delight.

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originally posted: 11/05/08 14:49:19
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: Fantastic Fest 2008 For more in the Fantastic Fest 2008 series, click here.

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  DVD: 02-Jan-2009



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