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Sticks and Stones

Brakland

Martin Skovbjerg’s ambitious directorial debut offers a timely and provocative take on toxic friendship and the destructive power of extreme masculinity.

Dir Martin Skovbjerg
Prod Eva Jakobsen, Katrin Pors, Mikkel Jersin
Scr Christian Gamst Miller-Harris
With Jonas Bjerril, Vilmer Trier Brøgger, Sophia Andersen Martinussen
Denmark-Iceland
2018
93min
Sales Danish Film Institute
Subtitles

Simon’s stressed-out mother has moved the family from Copenhagen to Vesterby, a small town somewhere out in the sticks. Feeling alone and like an outsider, Simon is befriended by classmate Bjarke, a charismatic alpha male who seems to have it all: a huge house, wealthy father and a sexy, chilled-out mum. A seemingly anodyne school project sees the teenage boys mentally unleashed, employing increasingly daring and confrontational methods to probe beneath the veneer of calm in their local community and, in time, at home. Using surprising and challenging plot devices, Skovbjerg powerfully explores the impact of dysfunctional family dynamics within a fractured society. The superb camerawork and sound design create a sense of immediacy and claustrophobia, perfectly highlighting the troubling undercurrents of violence, dangerous sexuality and economic unease.

Sarah Lutton

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