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Sex, Drugs & Taxation (Spies & Glistrup) by Christoffer Boe

December 23, 2013

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Nobody knows Simon Spies (a millionaire) and Mogens Glistrup (his lawyer) outside of Denmark, so I guess the original title needed to go for the film’s international release, nonetheless Sex, Drugs & Taxation is as bad as international titles can be, they should have found something echoing the title of another recent Danish film – A Royal Affair by Nikolaj Arcel: both of them are anchored by an unusual relationship (hot Queen and revolutionary Doctor on one side, hot millionaire and crazy lawyer on the other one) but while Arcel deals with a Denmark still reeking of Middle Age, Boe depicts the socially – and sexually – advanced country that we know in our time and Glistrup’s visceral hatred for it. Simon Spies runs the show, he has the kind of money and personality who make him fit the role – and the most memorable scene of the film, maybe the most memorable scene of 2013 – belongs to him, but Spies & Glistrup evolves and revolves around Mogens’s tireless crusade against the social state and the heavy taxation necessary to sustain it: this is how a very Danish story becomes relevant touching issues at the core of today’s public discourse on the international scene.

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Christoffer Boe has given cinematic life to these real life characters with a lot of rhythm and an amazing team work to reconstruct the look and feel of Denmark in the 70s – in a sense Spies & Glistrup is a carefully realized historical film for Denmark in 70s as much as A Royal Affair was  in the 18th century – but the main merit of the Danish director is the casting of Johan Philip Asbæk as Spies and Nicolas Bro as Gilstrup, we see them together only in a few scenes, most of them at the beginning of the film where they have made such a powerful acting work, they have created such a strong connection that for the rest of the film they are always together because we realize that Spies wouldn’t have been Spies without Glistrup and vice versa: two eccentric characters living in a time when a lot of things happened that are still relevant today filmed with verve and vision.

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