Too funny to be considered a tragedy but too melancholy to fit neatly in the comedy category, this bittersweet delight from Iceland is as about as unique and unclassifiable as its hero, a pale, hairless teenager named Noi (Tomas Lemarquis). Virtually abandoned by his alcoholic cabbie father, Kiddi (Trustur Leo Gunnarsson), Noi lives with his grandmother (Anna Fridriksdottir) in a small house at the foot of an looming mountain of ice and stone. There's not much to do in this small village situated on an a isolated fjord, so Noi either hangs out at the used bookstore where he plays "Mastermind" with the grouchy owner, Oskar (Hjalti Rognvaldsson), or disappears entirely into the tiny hidey-hole under the floor of his grandmother's house. When he bothers to show up at school, Noi arrives late, puts his head down on his folded arms and goes to sleep. A stern letter home from the schoolmaster (Thorsteinn Gunnarsson) prompts Kiddi's unexpected reappearance; he claims he's back to raise his son right, but basically continues drinking and thinks nothing of asking Noi to pick up his late shifts. One day is very much like another until Noi meets Iris (Elin Hansdottir), Oskar's daughter from the city. She needs a break, Oskar says, from the urban environment, so she's taken a job at the local gas station where Noi drops in each day to jigger the jackpot machine and use his "winnings" to pay for a bottle of malt. Oksar also tells Noi to keep his distance, but Noi can't resist, especially when he learns that Iris also dreams of escaping this hick town. But just when Noi thinks he's found a way for both them to disappear from his drab, frozen world, his world suddenly disappears in a sudden catastrophe no one could have foreseen. Originally born in Paris but choosing to set his films in his parents' homeland, writer-director Dagur Kari is part of a new generation of interesting Icelandic-based filmmakers; Baltasar Kormakur, Agust Gudmundsson and Fridrik Thor Fridriksson are among his better known peers. But Kari has a distinct style all his own, and an unexpected sense of humor that ranges from moments of poignant absurdity — Kiddi drunkenly crooning "In the Ghetto" at a local karaoke night — to a visual shocker involving an enormous pot of blood and one of greatest reaction shots of all time. The eerie soundtrack is by Snowblow, the Icelandic duo made up of Kari and his recording partner, Orri Jonsson.
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- Released: 2002
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Too funny to be considered a tragedy but too melancholy to fit neatly in the comedy category, this bittersweet delight from Iceland is as about as unique and unclassifiable as its hero, a pale, hairless teenager named Noi (Tomas Lemarquis). Virtually aband… (more)