Helge Klingenfeldt-Hansen, a respected businessman, gathers his family and friends for his 60th birthday. Amongst the guests are his wife Elsa and his three children Christian, Helene and Michael. Tensions are running high as the family is still recovering following the suicide of Christian's twin sister Linda.
As guests arrive one by one, the action moves into the dining room where the celebration is about to begin. And then Christian stands up and prepares to make a speech. However, he gives his father a choice. Does he want a yellow speech or a green speech? After being coaxed by his guests, Helge settles on the green speech, which Christian has dubbed the "honest speech." The guests have no idea what kind of dark family secrets are going to see the light of day as Christian begins his speech...
The Film Contains Examples Of:
- Awful Truth: The revelation of the sexual abuse.
- Based on a Great Big Lie: Vinterberg stated that the story was inspired by story told by a caller to a phone-in show which subsequently turned out to be a hoaxer.
- Gratuitous German: Courtesy of the German toastmaster Helmut von Sachs, who frequently lapses into German and refers to Helge and Helene as: "Meine dänische Vater und Mutter."
- Minimalism: The film was made with a minimalist musical score, without post-production, as a protest against Hollywood practices.
- Mood Whiplash: You're laughing, you're cringing, you're creeped out, you're appalled, you're crying.. And hey, you're laughing again!
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Helmut von Sachs is portrayed by a Danish actor. His German accent is actually spot-on, but he does make a few grammatical flubs when his character speaks German.
- Rape as Drama: The main driver of the plot is the revelation of incest in the family.
- Wham Line:
- "It's all you were good for."
- And before that, "You sexually abused us, you raped us, you had sex with us little ones."
- While Rome Burns: The film's all about denial, which is how a lot of the guests are still able to carry on partying despite the family's implosion.