Panorama | Contemporary World Cinema
Hauntingly beautiful, deeply perceptive and emotionally devastating, Boudewijn Koole’s latest film is in many ways a companion piece to his acclaimed 2012 debut feature Kuawboy—winner of the best first film prizes at Berlin and the European Film Awards—with the focus shifted from the fraught relationship between a young boy and his emotionally volatile father to the no-less-fraught but more complex and nuanced relationship between a thirty-something woman and her emotionally reticent mother.
A globe-trotting photojournalist with a secret, Roos returns to the isolated Norwegian village of her youth on the occasion of her half-brother’s 13th birthday. "Are you going to fight?" he asks her, and the look they share instantly communicates the decades of misunderstandings, distrust and bottled-up anger between Roos and her icily taciturn concert pianist/sled-dog running mother. Koole has assembled a tremendous cast with whom he effortlessly establishes a tangible sense of shared history and complicated emotional bonds, portraying familial love as a fragile tension between profound intimacy and polarizing alienation. Koole and his team also make exceptional use of their northern setting, employing striking visuals and Oscar-worthy sound design to immerse the audience in the wonderfully strange, true, and bittersweet terrain of the film—both geographical and emotional.