Director Hans Petter Moland Norway 2014 1hr 57mins
Cast : Stellan Skarsgard, Pal Sverre Hagen, Bruno Ganz, Hildegun Riise, Peter Andersson, Birgitte Hjort Sorensen, Jakob Oftebro, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Jon Oigarden, Gard B. Eidsvold, Goran Navojec, Jack Sodahl Moland. (Norwegian, Danish, Serbian, English dialogue) Cert 15.
Think Shakespeare. Comic/Tragedy Lear, Macbeth, Titus? and add more Gore.
In a white landscape of the plains which cover with snow and a routine develops to clear the open roads for conveys of cars to tail the snow sweeper we add some more white dust in the form of Cocaine and the whole film lights up in technicolor jaundiced portrayal of dark violent people.
The central character leaning over the steering shell of his elevated cabin, this immigrant, Swede? , paradoxically turns into a violent man as is the context of most of the genre of revenge crime thrillers. Here Nils, Stellan Skarsgard, characters second name the unfortunate Dickman.
His family was his wife and son, Ingvar is a young guy working as an airport runway baggage collector and this being the hub of the incoming trade, never troubled by local police or customs, he comes close and closer still to the illicit trade.
This matter of fact place with its matter of fact underground drug traffic and distribution network – the cities are divided up between the blow in East Europeans, the Son of the last local dealer King who is the prepostrestly vain, acidic, juvenile, psychopath, vegan, ponytailed neat bearded tall thin Duke who goes by the name of Count. What a character we are going to have before us? Absolute lunatic. This is the awesome performance of Pal Sverre Valhheim Hagen playing Greven based no doubt on Scandanavian nightclub pseudes who hover with malevolence and drugs and he rakes up their idea of control a million times. If you look like a Dane and their Swedes Finns whatever and vice versa they beat the crap out of them. Giving tem guns is an entirely different matter.
The comedy is his mantra and all the dark, black, sardonic idiotic irony filled screen filled lunacy is generated from him as a lunatic cyclone once the trades are broken and certain revenge is up large and central course sty of the revenging Father.
It is obvious from a third of the film on their is comedic drenching with the absurdities built on formulaic responses of the moody gangsters. Each time someone goes missing it is down to Nils whose disposal method is unique and Sopranos’ish and Godfather sleeping with the fishes.
The white Norwegian’s including the pale Count are racist in the extreme and behave themselves as misfits in a country with natural and socially developed ideas.
How does it set up?
Nils has a very routine job when snow falls in his part of Norway. He is responsible for making the roads passable and keeping them that way all through winter. The yellow snow plough, the cabin and the monotonous white landscape are for most expectations a whiteout which the director will have to clear and turn the monotony into a thriller. A crime occurs and it is Nils extent of grief which the familiar Stellan Skarsgard an elder statesman of Scandanavian cinema has all the skills to express the great loss his son affects has on him. The world is in his mind cruel to the Everyman character, a familiar trope explored in many a film. Coping is the thrust of the initial timeline of the film.
Nils is not framed with any particular interests, we see him in the gloomy winter, he probably has a few fun moments! Like fishing, walking climbing or painting, we just don’t know. His wife is almost forgotten in this but clearly she is just as distraught as he and she fails to recognise the massive change in Nils while accepting his odd behaviour. It could have done with a bit if more development but this is not a TV series and this is the Genre it most relates too in our precepts about Scandanavian thrillers and odd ball crime. They got it from our Telly! So did The Sopranos! The best RV used to happen in The British Isles.
The Foreign Bastards
Certain things begin to happen and not in the expected order while this film blasts on violently and at a ferocious pace. It is absorbing and shocking in a bizarre way and would have been good box office in the USA as well as other dominions as there is an appetite maybe due to the absence of real investigative journalism – the wars are the focus quite rightly of the more penetrative journalists and we hear of their tragic experiences daily. It is a point though as we depend sometimes on fiction for the exposed truth.
Our appreciation of drug wars are meagre and at a distance but under world crime is right beside us in the everyday with the daily reports of heinous crimes becoming hard to conceal and a raft of consciousness has reached the surface concerning us all.
Into the fray comes a great performance, Stellans is superb I forgot to acclaim, with Bruno Ganz as the Serbian Godfather Mobster known as Papa. The observation regarding the homey names is raised. BThe crew he has working for him are performed according to racist tropes and his craziness is a gem of macabre filmic criminality and psychopathy. Lots of deaths shooting and jeopardy in case you hadn’t gathered from the above. All delivered in truly good cinematic form.
This is a highly developed; far from the precepts of Nordic Cinema, replete with an excellent cast. It has lots of small asides and comedic reflections on the state of things. They are basically out of hand and no-one has a clue how destructive they are in the local context which this film shapes up to. It is beautifully photographed and snow ploughs always make a god throw directing our eyes wider and we have them opened in a strange if slightly, well far out tale of human calamitous failure to control our basic flaws. Go see but take it with a large glass full of Nordic snaps.
Tak. Tak. Tak.
On at QFT From this Friday 12 September to 18 September 2014