TIFF 2013 Review: SEX, DRUGS & TAXATION Is A Gonzo Biopic So Strange It Has To be True

Todd Brown, Founder and Editor
Just as you are unlikely to ever come across a more unlikely friendship than that which blossomed between browbeaten tax lawyer Mogens Glistrup and hedonist playboy Simon Spies through the 1960s in Denmark, you are equally unlikely to settle on a more unlikely filmmaker than Christoffer Boe to tell their story. Best known for serious fare that treads the line between arthouse and genre film while toying with ideas of love, memory and obsession, Boe here tackles a real life story of sex, drugs and discount airlines and the results are utterly compelling.

Nicolas Bro (Adam's Apples) plays Mogens Glistrup, an intelligent but intensely socially awkward tax lawyer desperate to escape from the shadow of his overbearing father in law when he encounters his old school friend Simon Spies - played by Pilou Asbaek of A Hijacking - at a school reunion. Spies life has gone, shall we say, rather differently than Glistrup's. He oozes money, for one thing, and is there with a girl on each arm and one trailing behind, all of whom are clearly bought and paid for for the evening. And why not, in Spies mind? If you see a pretty thing and you have money, and that pretty thing wants your money, why not make an exchange? It's perfectly natural and something to be celebrated rather than being ashamed of.

Spies and Glistrup are, in every way polar opposites, but each has something that the other needs. Spies offers excitement and freedom from the monotony of rules and structure that is crushing Glistrup's life. And Glistrup? Well, he may have an idea that would take Spies from a successful but comparatively small-fish travel broker to the owner of his own airline.

And so begins a lucrative and very, very odd partnership that would ultimately lead both to disaster. But the road they travel in getting there ... well, that's a road absolutely littered with events and stories so bizarre and libidinous that they can only be true. It's the story of a man - Spies - with limitless urges living in a time when indulging those urges was encouraged and the man - Glistrup - who enabled him to do so while tagging along for the ride. And if the ride in question involves lining up prostitutes on a stage for a practical testing of who has the best vagina, so much the better.

These two larger than life figures are brought vibrantly to the screen by Bro and Albaek, a pair of the most consistent and reliable actors in the world who are here hold to throw all restraint out the window and deliver some of their best work as a result. Boe proves to be a remarkably good fit to the material - far better than fans of his previous work may have expected - as he indulges his rarely seen sense of humor while also bringing some depth and maturity to Spies utterly unhinged existence.

It's hard to say what sort of film Sex, Drugs & Taxation really is. It's not a comedy, despite being very odd. It has far too much penis to be a conventional drama. And it's having way too much fun for the arthouse. So those inclined to label and box things are going to be driven to fits here but however it ultimately ends up being filed it's simply very good.
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