This Norwegian film will have you wondering if it’s a black comedy, thriller, action film or heist movie. In reality it’s a love story.
Rodger Brown played by the oddly Christopher Walken look-a-like Aksel Hennie is short, married to a beautiful blond, works in recruitment and in his spare time is an art thief. He has the best of everything and his main motivation in life is to keep his wife happy for fear of losing her. In order to support his reputation and lavish lifestyle he has become successful in stealing paintings from client’s homes. Sinking deeper into debt the prospect of stealing a priceless painting from a former mercenary is too good an opportunity to pass up.
This endeavour leads to the unravelling of Rodger’s world and results in a gory, tense mess amidst one of the most gripping films you’ll see all year. When he realises the mercenary is onto him it results in a series of incredible scenes, the majority of which border on insanity with Hennie’s deadpan expressions as he is faced with each seemingly insurmountable event making them all the more humorous. Hennie is amazing, able to carry entire scenes with the lift of an eyebrow or a shrug of the shoulders and with the film being almost silent for large parts it’s an invaluable skill.
There are elements of No Country for Old Men with the chase between Rodger and Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) resulting in some ingenious moments, all I’ll say is “toilet roll” and “I bet you blink before he does”. Special mention must also be given to Ove (Eivind Sander), Rodger’s bumbling accomplice in his art dealings who adds much of the humour to the film. Gory scenes make for difficult viewing at times but being realistic in their execution it makes them warranted and at times necessary.
All those elements describe the black humour, action and heist elements of the movie so all that remains is the love story between Rodger and his much taller and attractive wife Lotte (Julie R Olgaard). It is as honest a portrayal of the insecurities, trials and tribulations experienced by couples in today’s society. The relationship between the pair is ever changing and so too our understanding of their roles within it. Lesser films would have left this element undeveloped focusing on the smoke and mirrors but here the director Morten Tyldum puts it front and centre culminating in a beautifully emotional scene where Rodger bares his soul to Lotte warts and all.
A menagerie of a film but one you will return to again and again.
Norway, Germany / Directed By: Morten Tyldum / Written By: Lars Gudmestad, Ulf Ryberg / Starring: Aksel Hennie, Synnøve Macody Lund, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau / 100min / Action, Crime, Thriller / Release: 6 April 2012 (Irl/UK)