Aberdeen

A vivid, uncomfortable portrait of a relationship between a tightly wound young woman and her alcoholic father, forced to spend several uncomfortable days together during a road trip from Norway to Scotland. High-strung and short-tempered, London-based lawyer Kaisa (Lena Headey) has succeeded by teaching herself to emulate the boorish, bullying men with...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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A vivid, uncomfortable portrait of a relationship between a tightly wound young woman and her alcoholic father, forced to spend several uncomfortable days together during a road trip from Norway to Scotland. High-strung and short-tempered, London-based lawyer Kaisa (Lena Headey) has succeeded by teaching herself to emulate the boorish, bullying men with whom she works. Born in Norway to an English mother and a Norwegian father, she maintains distant relationships with both parents, who separated when she was a child. Bleary eyed and hung-over after a night of celebrating her new promotion, Lena gets an unexpected call from her mother, Helen (Charlotte Rampling), who lives in Scotland. Helen announces that Kaisa's father Tomas (Stellan Skarsgard), an oil-rig worker, has agreed to participate in an experimental alcohol-treatment program in Aberdeen; if Kaisa will collect him and bring him to her, Helen will handle the rest. Perhaps because she's too taken aback to say no, perhaps because Helen has never asked her for anything, Kaisa agrees — anyway, it should only take a day. A quick flight from London to Oslo, another to Aberdeen with dad, and then home again. But when Kaisa tracks down Tomas — it probably goes without saying that he's in a bar — he claims he hasn't spoken to her mother in years and has no intention of going into rehab. She persuades him to fly back with her, but the combination of his inebriated shenanigans in the airport and her volatile outburst at the gate agent gets them barred from their flight and blacklisted by the airline. Kaisa digs in her heels and decides to drive back. Stuck in uncomfortably close quarters — the car, a ferry, cramped hotel rooms — with her drunken father, she's forced to take a painful look at the festering faults in her apparently successful life, including her drug dependency. She also comes to realize that her mother's rehab story was a ruse, and that Helen had another reason for wanting Tomas and Kaisa to come to Aberdeen. Norwegian writer-director Hans Petter Moland shows the seething violence — physical, emotional, sexual — that lies constantly, perilously close to the surface of Tomas and Kaisa's relationship. The film makes some false moves — like a bit involving a red rubber clown nose that's freighted with way too much solemn resonance — but it's a raw, haunting experience nonetheless.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: A vivid, uncomfortable portrait of a relationship between a tightly wound young woman and her alcoholic father, forced to spend several uncomfortable days together during a road trip from Norway to Scotland. High-strung and short-tempered, London-based law… (more)

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