Dagur Kári / Iceland / 2003
In a remote, bleak Icelandic town Noi (Tomas Lemarquis) wiles away his time having skipped school sitting in his grandmother’s cellar. If that doesn’t have you rushing to the cinema, then I don’t know what will.
The immediate connection that one can make is with (the undoubtedly more entertaining) Rekyavik 101, if only because being set in Iceland, it looks fairly similar. Dwelling on the pathological boredom brought on by the depressing landscape, weather and life in general, Noi shows us how he handles being obviously superior to everyone around him. Routinely going to school and abruptly walking out to stroll around his town, cheating the gambling machine and drinking malts to pass the time, Noi drags you down with him. All he seems to need is a catalyst to provoke a sea change in his life.
One day his daily truancy brings him upon the daughter of the gas station attendant. Having found someone to stir him into action, Noi dreams of moving off his frozen rock to a better place, but the rot has set in with her already. Despite his intentions and his desire, Noi's drive to achieve his goal is placated by a gift he receives: a slide-viewer complete with pictures of beach scenes.
Bizarre deadpan humour (Noi's grandmother's shotgun wake-up call, her exercise regime and an incident with a vat of blood) and (miraculously?) escaping from death sit at odds with the whole concept of what Noi Albinoi attempts to be; bluntly curtailing any prospect of the film being seen as an existential comment. Ultimately, you can feel aggrieved that Noi is still alive at the end, and not just because he doesn't seem to care.
Noi Albinoi's characters are one-dimensional and for the most part unremarkable and given the country's landscape, the photography couldn’t be described as anything notable, an epitaph rather fitting for the whole film.