Tómas Lemarquis plays Nói, a 17-year-old living in a tiny, frigid, massively isolated town in Iceland. He is brilliant, but refuses to be so, and many people in the town think he isn’t all there. He sleeps through school (when he bothers to show up), deals with his useless alcoholic father, and dreams of being somewhere else. When he meets a young woman who turns out to be a kindred spirit, his desire to escape is further enflamed. The odds, however, are stacked against him.
Quirky… coming-of-age tales are a dime a dozen, but this one is rather uniquely itself, thanks in no small part to its determination to use the landscape to the fullest extent. When, in the opening shots, we see our hero having to shovel through a wall of snow just to open the door and leave the house, the tone is set. Though there are enough humorous aspects to put the film in the realm of the low-key, deadpan comedy, there is also enormous tragedy and darkness, so be prepared for that.
This is a very quiet film, with very restrained use of the music score, and one might be led to wonder why a 5.1 mix was provided at all. Long chunks of film go by with zero surround. However, every now and then the rear speakers spring to life to startling effect (notably at the film’s climax). The result thus is actually quite impressive, and very much in keeping with the spirit of the film. The film is presented in the original Icelandic with English subtitles.
A bit part of the film’s tone is established through the unusual use of colour. Exteriors are chilly blue, while the scenes in the school are heavily filtered green, and so on. Many scenes are close to being monochromatic, as if the film were bleached of vibrancy by the cold. The transfer handles this palette very well. The blacks are good, the image is sharp, and there are no problems with grain, edge enhancement, pixellation and so forth.
There is no commentary, but the director Dagur Kári introduces the three deleted scenes. He also has much to say in a making-of featurette that it much better than the usual sort of thing. There are also trailers for this a clutch of other Palm releases. The menu’s main screen is animated and scored.
”Quirky” can be overdone and cute, but the bleakness here acts as a corrective. Worth seeing.
Special Features List
- Making-of Featurette
- Deleted Scenes