16 September 2014 | GrowMagicBeans
...because a man must avenge his son ...it's expected of him.
Unassuming, snow ploughing, 'Citizen of the year', a man of few words, Nils Dickman (Stellan Skarsgård), goes on a vigilante kill crazy rampage, disposing of those mobsters responsible for his son's death, because a man must avenge his son... it's expected of him.
...and that's basically the plot in this quirky, slightly strange, somewhat dark, Nordic humoured movie. After a intriguingly dark and interesting beginning, the plot itself runs a little stale and begins to feel slightly familiar and rehashed. It's a shame, because a weak plot is the movie's only flaw. To me, it felt a little bit of a cop-out from the original premise of the 'ordinary man', that he could conveniently enlist the help of his criminally linked brother, in order to get the movie flowing again.
Nevertheless, there is a lot to take away from the movie, and, even if the plot falls a little flat midway, the characters and even the ambiance certainly do not! There is something so charmingly black in the understated Nordic tone that will keep you enticed - perhaps not loud roaring laughter, but certainly continuous rumbling chuckling throughout. The theme may be familiar, but it is told with a new ice veneer that is typically Norwegian in style, aided by the wonderfully droll backdrop of the mountainous countryside. Whether it be the in-car conversations between mobsters discussing issues such as differences between the welfare systems of cold climate countries as opposed to those of hot climate countries; or the face-off between the kingpin mobster, Greven (Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen) and his passively aggressive, coldly beautiful, ice-queen ex-wife, Marit (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen), these little scenes will most certainly keep you entertained and engaged.
The movie is certainly self-aware and has a little laugh at the quirks of Norwegian culture. This is no more evident than in the king-pin's home with its excessive and immaculate modernist furnishings. Scenes with Greven putting 'five-a-day fruits' ahead of business matters again epitomises the 'new world' of the Norwegian mobster. This modern society is put in stark contrast to the 'old world' of the Serbian rival gang where tradition and loyalty, the notion of an eye-for-an-eye, is paramount. Yet, even despite its odd quirks, the new world can manage to entice the old, with the Papa (Bruno Ganz), in the midst of his manhunt, opening up to new sensations on the cold mountaintop, vicariously experiencing the simple pleasures of the children as they ski down the mountain... and so the movie is perhaps also proud of its culture and origins, giving it a proverbial 'Fargo' feel.
Perhaps it doesn't quite attain the promise of 'high-art' it might suggest in its opening 20 minutes, but soon you learn it doesn't really need to. It's a quirky, superfluous little number that will give you fresh enjoyment on an old theme, and keep you quietly chuckling along, clucking like a hen, until the very end.