Around the world in 50 films: #9 Iceland — Nói Albínói (2003)
|May 11, 2012||Posted by Simon Brand under around the world in 50 films|
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 suggest films for me to watch.
I started my Red Desert review with a rant about use of colour in films. I hope you will forgive me for doing the same here by saying AAAAAHHH, COLOUR FILTERS! WHYYY!? Seriously, Nói Albínói could 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 very good 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 he puts in, but he seems to have hidden depths of intelligence. His main concern, however, is with Iris, the new cashier at the garage shop he frequents.
It is subtly 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 and 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 that is well worth a watch. Those who (like me) are annoyed by senseless use of filters and digital manipulation may get agitated, but don’t let that put you off watching too much. Recommended to fans of Jim Jarmusch, Aki Kaurismäki and snow.
Also recommended from Iceland:
Sorry, I’ve got nothing