Northwest (2013)

July 20th, 2014
Author: Meredith Taylor

Director: Michael Noer

Writers: Michael Noer, Rasmus Heisterberg

Cast: Gustav Dyekjaer Giese, Oscar Dyekjaer Giese, Julifi Al-Jaburi, Roland Moller, Lena Maria Christensen

91min  Danish with subtitles   Crime Drama

Michael Noer explores the criminal underbelly of Copenhagen’s Nordvest district in his second feature, a gritty Noirish art house piece. In Nordvest, rival ethnic gangs compete for the lucrative business of stealing to order amongst the neighbourhood’s luxury modern houses where rich pickings of designer furnishings are to be had (Le Klint or Beovision anyone?). A specialist in this petty crime trade is Danish teenager Caspar (newcomer Gustav Dyekjaer Giese) who lives with his single mother (Lena Maria Christensen), brother Andy (real-life sibling Oscar Dyekjaer Giese) and little sister Freya. Although keen to protect his brother from his illicit activities, Caspar realises Andy has a yen to train as his accomplice rather than going to secondary  school.

But Caspar is very much a bottom-feeder in the gangland scene and working hard to gain respect from ‘boss’ Jamal (Dulifi Al-Jaburi) when he runs into the venal Bjorn (Roland Moller) while ducking and diving for loot in the leafy avenues of the Danish suburb. The two hit it off and Bjorn offers him an entrée into his world of pimping Eastern European hookers and drug-trafficking, which has the added advantage of learning how to shoot a gun and earn better money. A turf war ensues between the rival gangs, as Jamal becomes territorial over Caspar.

There’s nothing particularly original about this Danish dogma-style tale of tawdry teenagers sinking into depravity (with its shades of Easymoney and Pusher) co-written by Rasmus Heisterberg (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). But what it offers is a compelling and tightly-plotted character study of how teens can fall between the cracks in the concrete in the petty criminal world. Fiercely protective of his family, Caspar has a decent heart and a keen sense of morality that doesn’t always serve him well in the world of criminal psychopaths. His arian looks and steely gaze make him perfect for the role of a fallen angel, Danish-style. Andy’s thuggishness and reduced sense of responsibility make him more of a daredevil, but also a self-seeking accomplice with an eye for the main change. Magnus Nordenhof Jonck (A Hijacking) brings a cool, creative vibe to his energetic cinematography. MT

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