by Greg Muskewitz
101 Reykjavik, a non-Björk Icelandic-import, is a modern coming-of-age tale of a jobless thirtysomething slacker, aimlessly spending his days drinking or surfing the ‘net, while still living with his mother.It sounds banal on all accounts, commonplace and uninticing, but if you were to leave it at that assumption, you don’t deserve to see this. 101 Reykjavik is one of the few films this summer that I could call a true treat, a genuine surprise, a worthy find. It didn’t have to introduce a new concept, bring forth some stunning lead, prove that the country had excellent visual effects, etc. But for something that can be taken as such a platitude, the vehicle has traction. Without toiling around in the doldrums, we are primed with real characters — our slacker Hlynur (Hilmir Snćr Guđnason) isn’t gifted in intelligence or looks, but still manages to attract a comely young girl who wants a relationship with him, but whom he tries to avoid. When his mother brings home a friend of hers, a sultry Brazilian dish named Lola (Almodóvar staple, Victoria Abril), it’s only natural that one gets a whiff of the sexual tension. Even once it’s established that she is bisexual, that is no deterrent to our estimations of what might happen (especially when the mother leaves them alone during New Year’s celebrations). Meanwhile, though events have been meticulously coming and going in a fashionable manner, the real surprises don’t start dropping upon us until halftime, maybe even three-quarters of the way through. Hofi’s pregnancy, the mother’s announcement that she’s a lesbian, and incahoots with Lola, their partnered-pregnancy, as well as Hlynur’s part in that, too.
The thing is these revelations drop like real-life bombs — unexpectedly and out of nowhere. In other words, while your day can be perfect up until that hour, that minute — that second then changes everything. And those combinations of minutes and seconds, that until heretofore, will change everything in one’s life and give it new direction, are probably the film’s most meticulous and most adjuring traits. All too often cinematic lives derive an uncalled for abundance of perfection and detailed-lessness when in fact, those minute specifics are what build to fuel our motivations and actions that end up painting the broad strokes of all life. Director Baltasar Kormákur, who also adapts the novel from which this was based (and co-stars as a beer-drinking goon), is content with the mundacity of small-time situations and happenstance without the threat of them turning into something humdrum. Kormákur is a young filmmaker, obvious partially through his appearance in the movie, but his signature of new editing techniques (tooling around with AfterEffects, one might posit) and the structure of the film — not to upturn one’s nose at cinematographer Peter Steuger’s command of the camera — is as easily noticeable as trendy and of-the-time, without being something you would expect from MTV.
With Hanna María Karldsdóttir and Ţrúđur Viljálmsóttir — don’t ask me for the pronunciation![Absolutely to be seen.]
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5404&reviewer=172
originally posted: 09/17/01 13:35:22