By Roger Costa
A WHITE, WHITE DAY
Iceland’s official entry for the Oscar’s Best International Film, writer-director Hlynur Palmason’s suspenseful drama depicts the effects of doubt and silent anger of a widower obsessed with the idea his late wife was having an affair. Winner of the Cannes’ Rising Star Award, it’s set amidst a foggy, remote area, creating a claustrophobic atmosphere, a permanent sense of unknown, the film centers on the police chief’s tender, yet tense relationship to his granddaughter, while crafting a stylish Gothic puzzle about fidelity and principles. A constant place of transition and mystery, quiet and threatening at equal levels, the road becomes a character, reflecting the film’s enigmatic meditation on memory, guilty, and loss. Gorgeously shot and profound, it’s a hauntingly unique experience.
One of the most provocative, and sexy Swedish drama in years, this highly praised sophomore work by actress/director/writer/producer Anna Odell gathers a stellar cast for an unusual project. Intense, intellectual and philosophical, the director gathers a clan of artists and performers in a studio where they will face challenges and situations to test their limits of morality, integrity and behavior. An overview on social confronts, divergences of the sexes, sacrifices and risks for art, it studies identity, the manipulative power of sex, vulnerability and human vices. A film-within-a-film, it delivers finely neurotic performances by Odell herself, the great Trine Dyrholm, Mikael Persbrandt and Jens Albinus among others. Spontaneously smart and original, it proves Odell as a courageous female cinematic force.
Emerging Stars Johannes Nymark and Mie Gren are terrifying as siblings with psycho tendencies in this anarchist dramedy about greed, privilege and capital control. Accomplished filmmaker Kasper Juhl gives family-horror a new style, conceiving a hypnotizing, bizarre, lusty and unpredictable thriller. In a disturbing atmosphere, the rich siblings are constantly hiring people, mostly women, to satisfy their aggressive, dominant and violent response to outsiders, as they try to erase the traumas from the past. Addressing sexuality, fragility, and the ambiguity of a co-dependence relationship, it’s a mind bending production that reveals Juhl as a visionary.
A truthful, raw exposé of Millennials’ perspectives towards love, sex and settlement, Director Lina Maria Mannheimer’s authentic documentary follows a couple of 20’s-something youngsters, as they meet by chance, and agree to develop a public romantic connection seen through her cameras. Inventive and inclusive, the film vividly absorbs the pair’s sensibility, energy and commitment, structured in a fast-paced, humorous and naturally irreverent atmosphere. Giving all access to their joy and dramas, Mannheimer crafts a compassionate and realistic portrait of hope, love and ambition in the digital generation.
After his mother dies, a boy is left alone with his estranged alcoholic father in director Nick Frangione’s outstanding coming-of-age story. Highly dramatic and delivering fierce, convincing performances by James Le Gros as the father, and award-winning rising star Nolan Lyons as the troubled son in a drastic transition, the film introduces the conflicts of masculinity and integrity shared by them. As they try to reconnect and understand each other, a moving father-son relationship develops, tenderly observed by detailed angles, and marvelously shot with grey tones representing the cold aspect of their bond. A crowd-pleasing drama that won major awards at Rhode Island, Tiburon and Fayetteville Film Festivals, it’s a masterly done meditation on America’s working-class dilemmas, broken fatherhood, abandonment and acceptance.
(The 5th Nordic International Film Festival is held at Roxy Cinema NYC October 16-20, 2019. For schedule and tickets go to: https://www.nordicfilmfest.org/ )