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PERSONA NON GRATA (2021, DAN) – 6.5/10

Somewhat unexpectedly, this not overly hyped humorous drama was chosen as the best Danish film made in 2021. This probably shows that the competition was not the same after the previous year in which Vinterberg with his masterpiece “Another Round” was the absolute winner. “Persona non grata” or “Hvor kragerne vender” in the original turned out to be a film that still rides too much on stereotypes and which only at the beginning reminded me of the great Argentinean “Honorary Citizen”. And the main heroine of this film, a young writer who changed her name from Laura to Irina (Rosalinde Mynster), returns from Copenhagen to her native village in Jutland for her brother Jannik’s wedding.

Just like her Argentinian colleague, Laura became famous with a book in which she wrote in a not-so-nice way about her upbringing in a small provincial town from which she couldn’t wait to escape. Once she left, she never came back and that was for a reason, because she portrayed the people there, including her family, as primitive peasants who could not live with. Very quickly it becomes clear to us that Laura has practically invented a new self with her new name, and she now moves in Copenhagen in those artistic circles of vain and spoiled people. In fact, the debutante Lisa Jespersen recorded a solid satire on that new class of privileged smug fakers who are terribly worried about climate change, are all vegans, recycle, empathize with hungry children from Mozambique, but at the same time look down on the people who live around them.

It is a typical world of that irritating Woke culture of today where everyone is so aware and good, but in fact they are aggressive and hard-working fakers, hipsters who think they are better than everyone. At first it seems that Laura / Irina is like that too, but it becomes clear to us that somewhere deep down she is aware that she is a fraud and that she is trying with all her might to be liked and fit into that hypocritical hoch-society even though she despises such insincere people. She is obviously a girl who has not been able to fit into any society, and returning to her native farm will awaken painful memories in her, especially when she realizes that Janik is marrying Catrina (Anne Sofie Wanstrup was chosen as the best supporting actress), the girl who bullied her in childhood. Already after arriving home, Irina argues with her mother, who had previously been robbed of money by someone in a flower shop, about her outlook on life and sells some quasi-liberal demagoguery that will soon backfire on her head.

And it is clear from the beginning that this celebration cannot go well, and although Jespersen decided to record “Personu no gratu” in a humorous tone, not in a typically Danish serious and sad tone, there was too much riding on clichés and stereotypes, while the denouement somewhat expected. Of course, Laura / Irina will face everyone to the end and everyone will finally say to each other’s face what they think, which has been avoided for a long time. Of course, it is clear to us from the beginning that the picture here is not exactly black and white and that Laura / Irina was not exclusively a victim, but it is also clear to us that for someone like her, growing up in such an environment was certainly not the most comfortable. Although for a while it seemed that “Persona non grata” could grow into a serious and brave family drama like the cult (again) Vinterberg’s “Festen”, Jespersen decided to play it safe. And it was filmed almost in the typical Dogme style with a hand-held camera, and the village and the city are nicely contrasted, but I still expected something more.