The Green Butchers Anders Thomas Jensen

The Green ButchersAnders Thomas Jensen
If you're sick of bland, innocuous, brightly-lit American comedies, then have I got a movie for you. Anal-retentive Svend and numb pothead Bjarne are two butcher's assistants who are sick of being bullied by their boss; their attempt to go into business for themselves fails miserably until an electrician gets locked in their freezer. Stuck for stock when dared by their old superior, Svend uses the frozen victim's thigh in a recipe, and suddenly the unpopular shop becomes the culinary rage of the city. This naturally creates the problem of how to procure more human flesh, resulting in some horrible and hilarious rationalisations.

Though the plot could be Off-Broadway not-so-naughty naughtiness, writer/director Jensen makes sure that warm fuzzies are nowhere to be found. Everybody in the film seems to have lost their family in some tragic accident, which only makes them more selfish and unforgivable. Svend in particular strains your sympathy; he's a sweaty, lifelong pariah who's more than happy to exchange morality for the limelight that's been denied him all his life. But the awfulness of the protagonists only makes you root for them more, their total commitment to cruelty a blissful holiday from the oppressive niceness of most mainstream comedies.

Everything about the production is deliciously grotesque: the cast has been carefully selected for their freakish aptness, the costumes are placed at the right distance between quotation marks and the cinematography is doomy and hospital-green for that right sickening kick to the action. If its too-neat wrap-up is disappointingly soft, it's still a wonderfully mean antidote to the popular mood and a stellar piece of filmmaking in a field dominated by lazy writers and hack directors. (Mongrel Media)