Why does the Norway navy have bar codes on the side of their ships?
So when they come back to port they can… Scandinavian.
Terrible jokes aside, the Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival is back in Perth from July 20 to August 2. Here’s a snapshot of some of the films on offer!
A Conspiracy of Faith
A Conspiracy of Faith is a dark crime thriller that isn’t afraid to tackle difficult issues of child abduction, religion and tensions that exist in rural communities.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
When a message in a bottle washes up on the shore of rural Denmark, detectives Carl Mørck (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) and Assad (Fares Fares) start investigating the case. The note appears to be written by a child and they soon discover that there is a history of child abductions amongst religious cults in the area. When two children go missing in similar circumstances, the pair must race to find out who the abductor is before the two children become his next victim.
A Conspiracy of Faith is a film that’s visually beautiful and soft, almost as if you’re in a dream. The content, however, is nightmarish, and literally gives you shivers thanks to its spectacular performances.
Standouts include Olivia Terpet Gammelgaard, who plays one of the kidnapped children, and Pål Sverre Hagen who plays the abductor Johannes. Terpet Gammelgaard’s quiet tenacity makes you even more fearful for her fate, while Sverre Hagen’s turn as Johannes is powerful and frightening as he comfortably shifts between personas to get what he requires. There’s a quiet evil that lurks behind his friendly façade and it only grows more menacing as the film progresses.
The film has many more admirable qualities, such as its brilliant soundtrack that provides a real stillness at some points, then a thick blanket of tension and suspense at others. A Conspiracy of Faith tackles a lot of tough topics such as religion and faith, child abduction, indoctrination, and nature versus nurture, which are all handled with an amazing sensitivity; this is a film that will stay with me, and I encourage all to go see it.
Magnus is an intriguing documentary charting the rise of Magnus Carlsen; a charismatic Norwegian chess prodigy who eventually became the world champion in 2013.
⭐ ⭐ ½
Magnus chronicles the story of an underdog who overcame great odds to become top of his game; Magnus Carlsen became a Grandmaster at just 13 after playing ten chess games blindfolded. Once labelled the “Mozart of Chess” he is known as a prime athlete in the chess-playing world.
Whilst rightly attempting to tap into the intuitive mindset and lateral thinking behind this ancient game, Magnus stumbles by showcasing an excess of game footage, which may alienate casual viewers that are not familiar with the rules. Players within the documentary speak in technical jargon about chess, which may not make for enthralling viewing, but it does add a degree of quirkiness. Director Benjamin Ree portrays his subject as a child genius who grew up with modesty, and deliberately avoids focusing too much on Carlsen’s personal life.
Chess is a wonderful game, but it’s not for everyone, much like this documentary.
Linnea Skog strives to deliver a strong performance as a restless 12-year-old, but the material fails to make full use of her potential.
Frustrated by her mother’s inability to function as an adult, 12-year-old Varpu (Linnea Skog) learns to drive a car and takes off in the middle of the night to search for her estranged father. The journey doesn’t exactly go as planned and Varpu has to decide whether to persist in the search for her father or to go home defeated.
Linnea Skog is without a doubt an incredible actress; she plays Varpu with a maturity and steely determination that makes you sympathise with her situation. Unfortunately, the adults around her are too over the top, and this is where the movie starts to give way. From her mother who climbs into her bed every night like a child needing to be comforted, to an abused pregnant woman that Varpu comes in contact with along the way, and finally her father, you’re left to wonder how a young girl can have the misfortune of being constantly surrounded by such socially damaged people.
There are some details in the film that just don’t make sense, and some of the actions contradict the personalities of the main characters. In the end, the film wraps everything up a little too nicely, making you question whether the characters grew from this experience at all.
It’s an interesting snapshot of one girl’s adventures, and would make for a great story in the pub, but on screen it fails to develop into anything of note.
Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival 2017 runs in Perth from 20 July – 2 August
Images courtesy of Palace Films & Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival