Cold Fever

Director: Fridrik Thor Fridriksson

Despite a population of only 240,000, Iceland has a notable film industry and in Fridrik Thor Fridriksson a director of international repute. Frideriksson’s Children of Nature (1991) was nominated for an Oscar, and his latest has been a hit on the festival circuit.
Cold Fever is a witty road movie about a young Japanese executive, Hirata (Masatoshi Nagase, the Elvis fan in Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train), who is forced to give up a planned holiday in sunny Hawaii to perform a memorial service for his parents, who were killed in a freak accident on a remote Icelandic river. Fridriksson films the busy and claustrophobic Japanese sequences in the old Academy ratio, then expans into the wide screen format to take in the awesome grandeur of the Icelandic landscapes.
A very strange coutnry is the Japanese traveller’ impassive response whenever friendly Icelanders ask his opinion of their country, which local eccentrics claim has more writers proportionally than anywhere else, and boasts the most beautiful woemen in the world (Two out of the last five Miss Worlds, a taxi driver assures Hirata). As this stranger in a strange land journeys by taxi, lorry, car, foot, jeep and pony, he encounters a couple of dodgy American tourists, a woman obsessed with photographing funerals, and a band of Ielandic country and western fans. But Fridriksson keeps a tight rein on the eccentricities by underplaying the comedy and never allowing the stunning images to obscure the spiritual nature ofhis hero’s journey. As a wise old man tells Hirata at the end of his quest, Just stupid people only believe in thins they can see and touch.

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