Jar City (2006) **** First Nordic Film Festival in London 2012

November 24th, 2012
Author: Meredith Taylor

Director:  Baltasar Kormakur

Script: Baltasar Kormakur, Arnaldur Indrioason, Michael Ross

Cast: Ingvar Eggert Sigurdsson, Agusta Eva Erlendsdottir, Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson, Olafia Hronn Jonsdottir, Atli Rafn Sigurdsson

Iceland/Germany/Denmark       93mins 2006 Murder Mystery

Based upon the novel by Arnaldur Indrioason concerning real life events in Iceland, where it was somewhat controversially decided to create a DNA database of the entire 300,000 island population to better enable the chronicling of genetic diseases.

Kormakur, perhaps best known for his 2001 hit 101 Reykjavik, has translated the novel into a rather fine, icily dystopian murder mystery. This said, I’m a little bit nonplussed as to why this film would be included in the 2012 Nordic Film Festival line up considering it was made six years ago and I saw it in the cinema five years ago.

A cleverly constructed piece then, weaving together two seemingly disparate story strands with an incredibly desolate, windswept and darkly drawn Iceland.

The script is particularly strong with very little spare to it and boasts very strong characterisation; none more so than that of of our lead protagonist Inspector Erlendur, a fatherly homicide Policeman with more than enough troubles of his own at home. Indeed, the acting throughout is totally believable, understated and the actors very well cast.

Through his canon, Kormakur is also creating a distinctive filmmaking style of his own, with a particularly black brand of humour, but also a reassuringly deep understanding of what makes film work in terms of motif and structure.

A piece then of taciturn, frost-hardened Arctic-living types with secrets buried deep in the permafrost, where it seems it will take more than just a warm personality to unearth the passion behind the truth. AT

Jar City won the Crystal Globe Grand Prix at Karlovy Vary in 2007.


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