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Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival 2019: top picks and reviews

And so to one of my favourite film festivals of the year, the Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival. I was delighted to see Department Q back on the list of movies. Can’t wait to see the latest instalment from these creators. And then there’s the Nordic Noir Millenium Trilogy (think Girl With The Dragon Tattoo).  Below are a few more of my top picks, plus a review of the movies A White White Day and One Last Deal.

A White White Day (the media preview movie)

I always find it interesting which movie gets chosen for the media preview. A White White Day is an interesting choice. The story begins with a car driving along a winding hilly road in thick fog. As the car winds around the road the fog thickens. As an audience member you’re instantly firmly injected into the action. I noticed my body shifting slightly with each wind in the road, impending doom making me hold my breath. When the inevitable happened, and our leading man lost his wife, it was so subtle is was a surprise. Very clever. The remainder of the movie is played out in similar voyeuristic style.

Going through a dead partners belongings is always tough. No matter how much you have trusted your partner there’s always a lingering doubt. What if you find something that destroys your whole memory of them? What if you find something that makes their, and therefore your, whole life a lie. A lover, a whole other family. I’ve seen it happen to friends and watched it destroys their trust of others forever.

Award-winning director Hlynur Palmason uses a montage of night and day snapshots to effectively highlight the passing of time. So too the rebuilding of a derelict house as a metaphor for the never ending, steady effort required to piece ones life back together.

The movie is an interesting and unique exploration of grief. The devastation of grief is played out in actions rather than spoken aloud. That is until we get to the final scene which explains everything. Those who haven’t been through grief may miss some nuances. A very clever portrayal.

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One Last Deal

One Last Deal tells the story of an ageing art dealer Olavi (Heikki  Nousiainen) who owns a small art store near an auction house. With the creditors at the door he’s looking for that elusive ‘one last deal’. On one of his usual visits to the auction house he discovers a painting by an “unknown artist”. As he sets about researching the painting he becomes more and more convinced of its value. With only three days until the painting goes under the hammer he has a decision to make. He also has to find a way to raise the funds if he’s going to buy acquire it? At the same time his estranged daughter sends his grandson Lea (Pirjo Lonka) to work at the shop. A prickly relationship is soon softened when Olavi tells him of the painting. Watching the story unfold at a leisurely pace I was desperate to be able to fast forward, not out of boredom, out of suspense. Will the deal get done? Will the painting be real? Will Olavi reconnect with his family? This is a truly delightful movie touching on family, greed and humility.

My other picks from the program are:

The Purity of Vengence (Journal 64)

Heralded as the best instalment of the series how can I not see this one. Carl Mørck and Assad return for the final chapter in the Nordic-noir Department Q series. This time they’re investigating three mysterious mummified bodies. Okay I’m in.

A Conspiracy of Faith Department Q.

Said to have the best opening of a local film in 15 years in its native Denmark, A Conspiracy of Faith has been hailed the best Jussi Adler-Olsen adaptation to date.

The Keeper of Lost Causes

Based on the bestselling novel of the same name, this award-winning, great- looking Scandinavian crime film focuses on a difficult but unswerving Danish cop who reopens the case of a female politician who allegedly committed suicide.

The Absent One

This hugely successful follow-on from The Keeper of Lost Causes brings back the original cast to investigate what really happened in the 1990s at one of the country’s poshest boarding schools.

Nordic Noir Millenium Triology

The trilogy looks at – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. The Girl Who Played With Fire. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest. If that’s not enough there’s a movie about Stieg Larsson called The Man Who Played With Fire. This is said to be a fascinating biopic about the author behind the immensely successful Millennium Trilogy, whose life pursuit of tracking extremist far-right groups as an investigative journalist was equally as compelling as his novels.

Others that have been singled out are:

Happy Ending. Picked as the opening night movie this is said to be a cheeky, star-studded comedy from actress-turned-director Hella Joof.

Aurora.  A wicked and tender rom-com in which commitment-phobic party girl Aurora and Iranian refugee Darian agree to help each other in unconventional but vital ways.

Let Me Fall. A harrowing look at addiction which has been celebrated by critics and audiences for the stellar performances and enthralling direction by Baldvin Z (Life in a Fishbowl, 2014).

For more information go to Luna Cinema

Starts July 17th 2019

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