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The Crack Magazine



Director: Hlynur Pálmason

Stars: Elliot Crosset Hove, Ingvar Sigurðsson, Vic Carmen Sonne, Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir, Jacob Hauberg Lohmann

Shades of Dreyer, Bergman, even 'The Wicker Man', in this austere but beautifully-rendered and thematically-rich drama from Icelandic writer-director Hlynur Pálmason. It’s the late 19th Century and young Danish Lutheran priest Lucas (Hove) is despatched to a remote Icelandic outpost on the Southeast coast to oversee the building of a church. The arrogant Lucas insists on travelling overland and behaves condescendingly towards his guide, the rugged Ragnar (Sigurðsson) who in turn considers him a ‘Danish devil’. Lucas collapses en route and has to be dragged by his guides. He wakes up in the village in the home of a Danish widower (Lohmann) and his two daughters, the cheeky Ida (Hlynsdóttir) and the older, eligible Anna (Sonne), later mooted as a match for the newcomer. Despite this warm reception from the family, Lucas remains a frosty, distant presence to the villagers. Inspired by seven photographs taken by a priest in the 1800s, the first visual record of the remote coastal region, Pálmason’s picture is both study of the natural world’s indifference to human endeavour, illustrated by time-lapsed sequences of dead creatures being reclaimed by nature, and 19th century culture clash, as Lucas’s Christianity encounters something older and more elemental. The antique feel is enhanced by Maria von Hausswolffs’s cinematography, which presents the images in boxy academy ratio, replete with rounded vintage photograph edges, while the alien feel of the Icelandic environs is augmented by Alex Zhang Hungtai’s eerie ambient score. The portentous drama is leavened with moments of warmth and humour.

David Willoughby

Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm 

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