×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Göteborg Film Review: ‘Out of Tune’

Comedy and tragedy go hand-in-hand amid this absurdist power struggle set in a remand penitentiary from talented Danish helmer Frederikke Aspöck.

Director:
Frederikke Aspöck
With:
Jacob Hauberg Lohman, Anders Matthesen, Søren Malling, Christopher Læssø, Anders Brink Madsen, Signe Egholm Olsen, Elvir Ramovic, Petrine Agger.

1 hour 33 minutes

Official Site: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8240250/

Comedy and tragedy go hand-in-hand in the ironically titled “Out of Tune,” a cleverly executed, perfectly performed Danish dramedy about an absurdist power struggle taking place in a remand penitentiary from talented helmer Frederikke Aspöck (“Rosita,” “Labrador”). Filled with flawed characters who are both lovable and despicable, this nuanced portrait of universally recognizable human behavior seems ripe for a remake in any country that welcomes social critique. Aided by notable production and sound design and a spot-on score, Aspöck achieves a tricky balance of tone and sets a snappy pace. After well-received screenings in Rotterdam and Göteborg, further festivals and boutique distributors will be singing the praises of this provocative crowdpleaser.

The film’s musical elements are woven into the narrative from the very beginning, as charming but manipulative celebrity entrepreneur Markus Føns (Jacob Hauberg Lohman) enters remand custody for financial fraud while he awaits trial. His off-shore fortune and glamorous Indian actress wife mark him as too great a flight risk for bail. But his imperious attitude doesn’t go over well with the prison staff or the general population. Before long, a bruised and shaken Markus is requesting voluntary isolation in the ward housing the prison’s most vulnerable inmates, including pedophiles and rapists.

As long as isolation ward detainees obey both the written and unwritten rules, they can fill their time in remand limbo with activities such as fitness or handicrafts and receive both financial and emotional rewards. But Markus, with his designer wardrobe and expensive lawyer, believes himself a breed apart. He violates propriety by asking the other inmates what they are accused of, and, ultimately more vexing, he challenges the leadership of choir master Niels (Anders Matthesen, a beloved comedian cast against type).

While the down-to-earth Niels can read the disdainful Markus like a book, some of the others are fascinated by the white-collar criminal’s worldly goods and aura of success and sophistication. Naïve accused thief Simon (Christopher Læssø) offers to spend his one-on-one time with him, while hen-pecked guard Morten (Anders Brink Madsen), sees him as a hometown boy made good and offers preferential treatment. Although Markus may not appreciate their attentions, he realizes how he can play them to his best advantage.

The tight script by author and playwright Lars Husum makes the prison population a microcosm of society at large. There are those, like Niels, who do all they can to help their community. But then there are the Markus’s of the world, who think only of themselves and exploit the community to attain their selfish ends.

Limiting the action to the claustrophobic confines of the prison, Aspöck wisely uses the television programs playing in the cells to give viewers some visual relief. It’s little wonder that one of the isolation ward’s favorite shows involves tours of high-end real estate, featuring big rooms, fabulous gardens, and bright skies. Meanwhile, the newscasts frequently comment on the narrative and provide necessary exposition.

Although moving away from the naturalistic look of her earlier work, Aspöck still fine tunes the action with an eye to psychological veracity, allowing the humor to develop organically. Here, she is blessed with one of the strongest male ensembles to be seen on Danish screens this year. Although Søren Malling may be the most recognized of the performers, he melts into the ensemble, lending poker-faced support so that sparks really fly from the confrontations between Niels and Markus.

The carefully stylized production package is superb, with special kudos due to the percussive score supplied by composer Rasmus Bille Bähncke; Sussie Bjørnvad’s costumes, which reveal reams of character information and the smart sound design by Morten Groth, in which sound effects create their own subtle music.

Göteborg Film Review: 'Out of Tune'

Reviewed at Göteborg Film Festival (Focus: Nordic Comedy), Feb. 1, 2019. (Also in Rotterdam Film Festival.) Running time: 93 MIN. (Original title: ‘De Frivillige’)

Production: (Denmark) A SF Studios production, with the support of the Danish Film Institute, TV 2 Denmark, FilmFyn, Creative Europe Programme - MEDIA of the European Union. (Int'l sales: SF Studios, Stockholm.) Producer: Senia Dremstrup. Executive producers: Lars Bredo Rahbek, Tim King.

Crew: Director: Frederikke Aspöck. Screenplay: Lars Husum, based on his play. Camera (color): Louise McLaughlin. Editor: Martin Schade. Music: Rasmus Bille Bähncke.

With: Jacob Hauberg Lohman, Anders Matthesen, Søren Malling, Christopher Læssø, Anders Brink Madsen, Signe Egholm Olsen, Elvir Ramovic, Petrine Agger.

More Film

  • Black Panther

    'Black Panther,' 'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Westworld' Among Costume Designers Guild Winners

    “Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” walked away with top honors at the 21st annual Costume Designers Guild Awards Tuesday night, the final industry guild show before the Oscars on Feb. 24. “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” are up for the Oscar this year, along with “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” “Mary Poppins [...]

  • WGA Writers Contract Talks

    Talent Agents, WGA Achieve Progress in Second Round of Talks

    Hollywood talent agents and the Writers Guild of America have achieved some progress at their second negotiating session over agency regulations, according to sources close to the talks. The two sides met Tuesday, two weeks after their first meeting resulted in both sides criticizing each other, followed by the WGA holding a trio of spirited [...]

  • Aaron Paul

    Film News Roundup: Aaron Paul Honored by Sun Valley Film Festival

    In today’s film news roundup, Aaron Paul is honored, Bruce Berman is re-upped at Village Roadshow, and Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher get a book deal. FESTIVAL HONORS More Reviews Berlin Film Review: 'Flesh Out' Berlin Film Review: 'Marighella' The Sun Valley Film Festival has selected Idaho native and three-time Emmy winner Aaron Paul as [...]

  • Olivia Munn]EMILY'S List Pre-Oscars Brunch, Inside,

    Olivia Munn Says Brett Ratner Called Her Before His 'Howard Stern' Apology

    Olivia Munn is setting the record straight about standing up to “Rush Hour” director Brett Ratner, whom she alleges sexually harassed her over a decade ago. During a panel discussion at the Emily’s List pre-Oscars brunch at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills Tuesday morning, Munn revealed that Ratner called her in 2011 after he denied [...]

  • Flesh Out review

    Berlin Film Review: 'Flesh Out'

    Ignore the awful English-language title: “Flesh Out” is an emotionally rich, sensitively made film about a young woman in Mauritania forced to gain weight in order to conform to traditional concepts of well-rounded beauty before her impending marriage. Strikingly registering the sensations of a protagonist living between the dutiful traditions of her class and the [...]

  • Marighella review

    Berlin Film Review: 'Marighella'

    Does Brazil need a film that openly advocates armed confrontation against its far-right government? That’s the first question that needs to be asked when discussing “Marighella,” actor Wagner Moura’s directorial debut focused on the final year in the life of left-wing insurrectionist Carlos Marighella during Brazil’s ruthless military dictatorship. For whatever one might think of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content