October 13, 2008

My best attempts at watching Norwegian films at the cinema (without subtitles) keep being foiled. Last year, Mannen Som Elsket Yngve turned out to be in (for me) impenetrable Stavanger dialect. A week ago, with my new and improved language skills, I let Mr. Snow persuade me to going to see deUsynlige, or The Invisible. This time I was tripped up by one of the main characters being Danish. At least this time Mr. Snow suffered slightly in puzzlement with me too.

An extra oddity of the film was that the film was shot almost exclusively in the part of Oslo where we live, so the spookily familiar factor was higher than I have ever experienced from a film. Especially given the realist, handheld-camera style of the film, it seemed completely likely that we might bump into some of the characters on the way home.

This film follows a young man who is released from jail after serving a sentence for abducting a little boy from a stroller outside a café, who is subsequently never found again. The film starts out with showing him adjusting to life on the outside again, but a chance encounter means that the past is not forgotten, nor forgiven.

A clever splice later in the film tells the same story from someone else’s viewpoint, a little in the manner of Memento (although there the twist is that it’s the same, but amnesic, person). Here, the performances are all strong enough to carry the theme of disappearance and loss through a good plot to a dramatic climax.

A triumph for director Erik Poppe, whose Hawaii, Oslo I happened to see 3 days later. In that film, coincidental crossing and re-crossing of otherwise realistic little stories gave the film a schizophrenic realist-mystic feel. DeUsynlige is much less ambitious in its story telling and end up telling a much better one. Raw, simple emotion in a world-class movie.


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