Well, this was different than expected. The debut feature film of Henrik Martin Dalsbakken, a 25 year old Norwegian you better watch out for, both directing and writing this. But this film is not for the easily depressed, let's start by saying that. The film is about effects of a distant war, when a family member is away there, like the father is here. As we've heard and seen many time before, it might be quite devastating. But the main theme is even more about men and feelings, which might be very understated.
Two young brothers, of 18 and 14, are forced to track down their absent father. Their mother is sick, of what appears to be M.E. or something, sleeping all day long. The father has recently returned from long service in Afghanistan, and he doesn't come home like he has said after a hunt in the mountains.
The film is breathtaking beautiful when it comes to the scenes in the mountain. Filmed in the high mountains of Dovre (where also Trollhunter was filmed) this really will take your breath away. I was stunned by a 360 degree camera turn in a scene two-thirds out in the movie. Pure movie art! Also the other photography is really well done. Oskar Dalsbakken, brother of the filmmaker, is one to watch out for as well. The film is shot on Super 35mm in Cinemascope, which really makes the colors in the nature stand out. A coming master of photography!
The film is very well acted. The four main persons are doing great, and the dialog is spot on i would say. The father, played by Ingvar H. Gimle is a nice man, but the war has ruined him, as it has ruined the little family, living in a remote place close to the mountain side. The two boys are also great. Åsmund Høeg, last seen in "Sons of Norway" goes through the screen. Well Fredrik Grøndal, the younger one is also very talented. The mother, Swedish Lia Boysen depicts a depressed and sick mother precisely. Anyway, the acting is touching and very tender. Great work and instruction!
And even the music is great. It's simply perfect. So perfect even, that it takes the focus of the nature. But I can't give anything but praise for this as well.
So, what's there not to like? Well, I tend to like short film. 75 minutes is though maybe too short here. There's no doubt the film hits you. The forces and consequences of war are obvious. The burdens are laid upon the 18 year old to be the backbone of the family, something which is a heavy task, obviously. But we've seen that depicted many times, and this comes down to a mere O.K. Something is missing here, maybe some things really not part of the main plot. There is a start in the beginning, when we sense the hatred the oldest boy has towards the military. Maybe this should have been used more as a dramatic drive. It's just too sad and depressing and maybe even too hopeless.
The other watchers in the cinema was disappointed by the end. That was obviously too abrupt. So we come down to a very talented film in all ways, though the story development should have been much better. It's no enough to make out an entire film. The lack of dialog between everyone in this family is of course the main theme. But still it makes the little tings said, too awkward, once her and there. It's obvious the father has things he'd like to tell and say about his feelings, but it all comes out wrong, except in one single moment after drinking.
Henrik Martin Dalsbakken should probably asked for help with the script, in stead of doing it all himself. He let's himself and his talent down here, trying to do it all by himself. With some work with the script this film would no doubt have been made into a classic. It's that good, except from the lacks in the script. Looks forward to the next from the Dalsbakkens. But hope they dare to ask for dramatic help! They are very talented no doubt.
I see the reviews of this film goes from six to three stars out of six, and i guess that says it all. A serious movie about a serious and interesting topic, but not fulfilled in all reviewers eyes. Not in this reviewer either, I'm afraid.
But I will look forward to next attempt from the young brothers Dalbakken!
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