Lars von Trier was a precocious film student? Who knew?

This loosely autobiographical tale, written and narrated by Lars himself, is certainly the most lighthearted of the films he’s been associated with. That’s not to say, of course, that this film is free from a certain sardonic edge that we’ve all come to know and love.

By the conceit of the film, young Erik is admitted to the prestigious film program due to an accident during the act of coitus, clearly a metaphor for the existential angst that permeates the entire tale. As gratuitous and arty films are created by the students under the watchful tutelage of the school’s hapless has-been filmmakers, Erik finds his niche as he crawls, scratches and fights his way for his vision to get on screen.

If this is what passes for Danish light hearted comedy, I’m all for it. Some glorious and humorous photography (a tour-de-force crane shot in particular is extraordinary), sly performances and a great sense of fun make this one of the most accessible yet still compelling of the wonderful works that escape from the Zentropa studio.