The Idiots (1998)

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The Idiots (1998)

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The Idiots is about a group of perfectly normal people pretending to be mentally retarded in order to see how society reacts to their behaviour.

Firstly, there's Stoffer - the leader. He is clearly the most active and the most daring of the group, but also appears to be the one with the least to lose. The rest of his colleagues have loved ones they care about, but are happy to abandon them in order to live by the excitement that Stoffer brings them. Finally, there is the newest recruit, Karen, who wants to be integrated to not only satisfy her curiosity but to fulfil an unknown void in her otherwise meaningless life.


I never really had a huge desire to post a review for The Idiots because I wasn't really sure what to say about it other than that it is a very bizarre film. Regardless, here are my thoughts.

Some of you may know that I'm a big football fan, and regularly catch the train into London to watch my team. The hour and a bit journey gives me just enough time to watch the start of a film there, and the end on the way back.

One such film I watched in this way was The Idiots. What a mistake that turned out to be. Let me begin by saying that you do not want to watch The Idiots in a public place (you may not want to at all, but we'll get to that later).

There are many disturbing scenes that make for uneasy watching and, if you watch this with anyone other than those who "understand", you may feel more than a little embarrassed. Oh yes, there's one scene that left me wanting to get off the train at every station for fear of being lynched.

Because of the film's topic, it makes it very difficult to review in any sense other than its moral or ethical outlook. Sure, the acting is perfectly fine but in the scheme of things the acting is completely irrelevant. This is a film you will either enjoy because of its social commentary on the relationship between cult movements, their leaders and their followers, or hate because of its avant-garde content.

Film critic Mark Kermode was notoriously thrown out of Cannes in 2002 after shouting "Il est merde [it is shit]" during the screening of The Idiots. He later claimed he was just sick of Cannes as it was an "exercise in ritual humiliation" where reviewers gather to tell their readers there is a cultural party going on that no-one else has been invited to. I fully understand.

I defy anyone to tell me that they enjoyed The Idiots and, for this reason alone, I refuse to award a single star. I can understand people appreciating it, but only in an artistic sense. But like it? I don't think so.

Review by on . Film Rating: 0/5