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Tribeca Film Festival: The Saint Bernard Syndicate Movie Review

Tribeca Film Festival: The Saint Bernard Syndicate Movie Review
Chinese Danish Dog

Every once in a while I see a film that is so odd that I have trouble figuring out if I love it or hate it or if I'm indifferent to it. "The St. Bernard Syndicate", a Danish film directed by Mads Brügger, is a prime example of this. It is a truly odd story, featuring three odd characters, all of whom are tremendous fun to watch.

Frederik (Frederik Cilius Jørgensen) comes from a well-to-do family and he's looking to start a new business and industry that he envisions will make him wildly successful. His father, however, looks at his son as a loser who is a blowhard, like a Ralph Kramden type. Since Frederick's father isn't willing to invest in the venture, Frederick needs another investor.

Rasmus (Rasmus Bruun) went to the same school, but they were never close. Frederik is disdainful of Rasmus, whom he regards as a nerd/loser, but Rasmus has a bit of money saved and he is in the mood to spend because he has just been diagnosed with ALS and doesn't envision much of a future for himself. This is obviously distressing news, but it serves here only as a minor plot point. There are a couple of moments where Rasmus and the viewers face it, but it's mostly glossed over to keep the offbeat comedy rolling.

Frederik's idea is to sell St. Bernards to the emerging middle class of China, because he believes that the Chinese view these dogs as status symbols. It's fairly unclear where this notion comes from, but Rasmus is in and the two of them head to Chongqing, China. Oh, and Frederik has kidnapped Dollar, his father's St, Bernard, to show the Chinese people and especially potential investors.

Absolutely nothing goes as planned on the trip and the results range from funny to uncomfortable. What keeps it afloat are the two lead actors and their primary Chinese partner, who makes the two Danes seem incredibly normal. The Chinese partner operates at a whole new level of bizarre and we are never quite sure what is going on with him.

Most of you will probably not be big fans of this one, but if you have a taste for black and bizarre comedy, it might hit the spot for you. Normally, these kinds of pics are right up my alley, but I still can't figure out what my overall evaluation of it is. The only thing I can say with certainty is that watching the two leads, especially Frederik, pushed it over the finish line for me.


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