Fear Me Not

The drugs don't work, they just warp your character.

Released in 2008, certified UK-Not Yet Rated. Reviewed on 20 Jun 2009 by Scott Morris
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Mikael (Ulrich Thomsen) decides to take some time off from his role as some sort of government mandarin to recharge his batteries, but it's not long before a malaise sets in. Seemingly out of a lack of anything better to do, he agrees to take part in brother-in-law Frederik (Lars Brygmann)'s clinical trial of a new anti-depressant.

While Mikael hadn't considered himself depressed before now, the pills do seem to have a beneficial effect on him, lightening him up somewhat to the relief of daughter Selma (Emma Sehested Hoeg) and wife Sigrid (Paprika Steen). However, continued exposure to these drugs wind up having a somewhat unexpected effect on Mikael.

In short, it rather turns him into a prick. He's hardly delusional or paranoiac, the medicine just appears to have brought his inner bastard to the fore. Retreating to his childhood home, he decides that his wife has been getting a bit too used to controlling things and sets about 'redressing the balance', as he would have it, or a campaign of mental and physical abuse, as everyone else would have it.

Now, the point, if indeed there is one, of this film is rather lost on me, especially given some of the revelations about the drugs as it goes on. It appears to be saying, in a nutshell, that some people are just total dicks. Bleeding heart liberals might call it an underlying psychological condition, but as a fully paid up member of the reactionary neocon movement I'm calling it being a total idiothole.

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It's an odd film to pigeonhole, but it perhaps fits most closely into the thriller category. The oddity here is that the nominal hero of the piece is slowly turning himself into the villain over the course of ninety-odd minutes. I don't know if this is unique, but it's certainly unusual and effective in holding interest.

Inescapably, however, it's just not saying anything much about human nature or, in the end, even the examples of humanity it chooses to feature as part of the film. Now, I don't necessarily demand that every film do that, but I left this film feeling that it was desperately trying to say something a little deeper that "This guy's a twerp", but never quite finds it's voice. Still, if it's at all possible to look beyond that, then it's at least an interestingly structured and played out drama that's worthy of a look if you happen across it.

Were I in the business of passing quantifiable judgements, I'd award this 4/5 TippyMarks.

Kristian Levring
Cast list:
Ulrich Thomsen (Mikael)
Lars Brygmann (Frederik)
Bjarne Henriksen (Kenneth)
Emma Sehested Hoeg (Selma)
Paprika Steen (Sigrid)
Stine Stengade (Ellen)
Bodil Udsen (Edith)