Tuesday, 29 November 2011
#9 Iceland — Nói Albínói (2003)
For review number nine, I chose Iceland, because I can.
Why I chose this: I'm not going to lie here, this was the only Icelandic film I had on my watchlist and I think the only one I'd actually heard of. If someone is outraged at my ignorance of Icelandic cinema, please let me know and give me films to watch.
I started my Red Desert review with a rant about use of colour in films. I hope you will forgive me in doing the same here by saying AAAAAHHH, COLOUR FILTERS! WHYYY!? Seriously, Nói Albínói would be an incredibly beautiful film if the team would stop screwing around with different filters and turning the contrast settings up to 11.
I feel bad about starting the review on such a negative note, as this is actually a great film. The story follows Nói, a troubled Icelandic teenager as he struggles with love, family and his future. He is always in trouble at school for the lack of effort which he puts in, but seems to have hidden depths of intelligence. His main concern, however, is with Iris - the new cashier at the garage shop which he frequents.
It is very subtley observed but filled with wry humour and a painfully acute sense of irony. Most of the scenes are very simple and slow paced, showing every facet of Nói's life. Although most of the focus is put on Nói, I found his father, Kiddi, to be the most interesting and real character. He is an alcoholic, drinking himself further from reconciliation and his son, as he realises more and more that he made all the wrong choices in life, all of which he wants Nói to be spared from. Þröstur Gunnarsson absolutely nails this part, where the rest of the cast put in simply passable performances. Particularly touching is his karaoke scene with him trying to have fun and connect with his son, while Nói gets thrown out of the building for underage drinking. We never see Kiddi's reaction, but just thinking about it is heartbreaking.
The music - by the director's band, Slowblow - is amazingly beautiful and complements the film perfectly. The minimalistic melodies fit the serene landscapes like a glove and contribute to the soothing tone of the film.
The themes of alienation through being different, family conflicts and yearning for a better place are all well developed, especially at the film's sobering, abrupt ending.
Nói Albínói won't change anyone's life, but it is a touching and amusing film which is well worth a watch. Recommended to fans of Jim Jarmusch, Aki Kaurismäki and snow.
Also recommended from Iceland:
Sorry, I've got nothing