Dir: Hans Petter Moland (2014)
This stark black comedy from Hans Petter Moland happily and effortlessly sits between Death Wish and Fargo as a beloved small town citizen in a remote Nordic town (played with a quiet ease by Stellan Skarsgård) is forced to take the suspicious death of his son into his own hands. A snow plough driver who loses everything, including his wife, after the fact heads down the path of vengeance easier than most but Moland doesn’t add lashings of Tarantino-like back story, Skarsgård’s Nils Dickman is perfectly and subtly drawn, despite his hilarious name, and his revenge is simple and brutal and not very funny at all.
Moland shows Nils in his snow machine, sending arcs of white powder off the most remote roads. Cleaning up and making the streets safe both in his job and in the films murderous plot seems like an obvious straight-faced metaphor but it’s one that works. In Order of Disappearance or Kraftidioten is punctuated with black cards, detailing every death as it happens in the blood on snow proceedings; A sort of joke which builds as the bodies pile up. Pal Sverre Hagen playing “The Count” is Nils’ target; A childish long-haired divorcee and second generation mobster who wouldn’t feel out-of-place in a Coen Brothers film and as the death count rises the films tone stays as straight as it started.
It’s the oldest trick in the book but it works. The performances (including a Serbian mafioso played by Bruno Gantz) smack up against each other with Hagen getting the majority of the films best scenes/lines. The repetition becomes a tiny bit like trudging through the white stuff but there’s enough beauty on show to make the walk worth it. Moland regulars Philip Øgaard’s crisp cinematography and Kim Fupz Aakeson’s script is both clear and unencumbered with the directors straight shooting style throwing up surprises within the frame rather than in the plot. It’s an enjoyable ride through a genre landscape which is well trodden; Violent, funny and incredibly enjoyable.