Monday, July 27, 2009

North: Battling the Blues

Melbourne International Film Festival 2009


Nord (North) is a delightful road movie, though the travelling is by snowplough and skiis.

Norwegian director Rune Denstad Langlo and writer Erlend Loe have created an uplifting allegory about modern times. Langlo's first feature film is definitely whiteout for the blues. He calls it "an off-road movie" because of its isolation.

Jomar Henriksen (Anders Baasmo Christiansen) is a talented skier who has withdrawn from life. He spends his time as a ski-lift operator, sleeping and watching tunnel disaster documentaries on a National Geographic channel. He subdues his depression with a mixture of booze and pills. This nordic bear would dearly like to hibernate in the local psychiatric hospital.

His partner left him when Jomar refused to leave his bed. They have a son who is now four. Spurred on by fate, Jomar heads North in his snowplough to find them. He encounters a number of eccentric people along the way as he battles the snow and his own demons. Most of these adventures help him to rediscover his former self. In particular Marte Aunemo who plays Lotte, a young girl who befriends Jomar, gives a beguiling performance. With the exception of Christiansen, most of the actors are non-professionals.

A couple of these meetings seem to serve only as punctuation for his interminable travels across the artic terrain, without adding much to his or our understanding. Watching the magnificent snowscapes, it was hard not to share his snow blindness at times.

The final scenes as he approaches his destination are awesome. If only…

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