Films & Schedules

  • Fear Me Not
    Den du frygter

  • Kristian Levring

95 minutes

Production Company:
Zentropa Entertainments
Sisse Graum Jørgensen
Kristian Levring, Anders Thomas Jensen
Production Designer:
Jette Lehmann
Jens Schlosser
Pernille Bech Christensen
Mick Raaschou
Principal Cast: Ulrich Thomsen, Paprika Steen, Emma Sehested Høeg, Lars Brygmann, Stine Stengade

Saturday September 0609:00PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 4 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Monday September 0803:45PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 3 Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Saturday September 1312:45PM VARSITY 3 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

A workaholic, Michael (Ulrich Thomsen) has taken some time off to deal with his family's move to a remote suburb of Copenhagen – and to learn how to relax. He and his wife, Sigrid (Paprika Steen), a successful executive in her own right, and their teenaged daughter, Selma, have recently taken over the home in which Sigrid grew up. The scene is idyllic and they are surrounded by people who care for them, including Frederik (Lars Brygmann) and his girlfriend Ellen (Stine Stengade). But Michael isn't as happy as he thinks he should be. Bothered by his insomnia and inability to relax, he enthusiastically volunteers for a drug test on a new anti-depressant Frederik is managing. Initially, the drug seems to lift Michael's spirits, but it also encourages him to isolate himself, with decidedly damaging effects.

A powerful and profoundly chilling rumination on middle-class disenfranchisement set against a backdrop of conspicuous consumption, complacent careerism and pharmaceutically aided self-help, Kristian Levring's Fear Me Not is driven by subtle psychological insight and some truly astonishing performances. The supporting cast – including Steen as the perplexed and terrified wife, Brygmann (last seen at the Festival in a very different role in With Your Permission) and Stengade (Kira's Reason, Prague) – is stellar. However, it is Thomsen (Adam's Apples, Brothers) who dominates the film, delivering a performance that elicits our compassion while simultaneously terrifying us. In the early going, we sympathize with Michael, but as his mental state deteriorates and his behaviour becomes more and more unpalatable, the tension grows unbearable, and all the more so because of our earlier understanding.

Levring and his collaborators have created a descent into hell led by an intensely manipulative character seemingly devoid of self-awareness, despite the enormous amount of time he spends worrying about his feelings. But perhaps the most unique aspect of this disturbing work is the absence of easy answers. Fear Me Not, while certainly psychologically acute, creates an unease that isn't dispelled by diagnosis, making it possibly the most unsettling viewing experience you may have this year.

Steve Gravestock

Kristian Levring was born in Denmark and co-founded the Dogme95 collective. He studied editing at The National Film School of Denmark and has edited numerous documentaries and features. His feature films include the Festival selectionsThe King Is Alive (00), The Intended (02) and Fear Me Not (08).

Cadillac People's Choice Award