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JAR CITY

Director: BALTASAR KORMAKUR

ICELAND -GERMANY-DENMARK • 2006 subtitled • colour • ANA MORPHIC • DOLBY DI GITAL STE REO • 93 MIN


A BROODING CRIME DRAMA FROM ICELAND, THIS IS A STRANGE, INVOLVING COMBINATION OF INVESTIGATIVE INTRIGUE AND THOUGHTFUL MUSING ON THE GENERATIONAL LEGACY OF AN ISOLATED NATION.
The all-time box-office champ in its native land (where it’s been seen by a third of the entire population), this adaptation from award-winning crime writer Arnaldur Indridason’s Inspector Erlendur series of novels spins its engrossing plot from the initially unexplained connections between two deaths — the loss of his small daughter to a rare brain disease which leaves one of the country’s elite genetic scientists wracked with grief, and the brutal, unmourned slaying of a lonely old pervert done in by an ashtray to the skull. Dogged police investigator Erlendur (played by steely Ingvar Eggert Sigurdson, who has much of the screen presence of that great old British character actor Harry Andrews) is initially perplexed by this latter incident, but an old photo of a church graveyard proves a vital clue and he’s nothing if not persistent. Director Baltasar Kormakur (101 Reykjavik) knows exactly how to get the most out of the imposing Icelandic landscape. His sweeping helicopter shots, accompanied by resounding choral music on the soundtrack, are bracing in their Nordic potency. While the film’s police procedural aspects are suitably engrossing, there’s a very Celtic black humour at work here, some intriguing culinary notions (jellied sheep’s head — yum!) and a considered look into the ramifications for privacy as a state-sponsored DNA survey unlocks the genetic mysteries of the whole country’s past. With echoes of the original Norwegian Insomnia, it’s a remarkably distinctive thriller well worth your time. — Trevor Johnston.

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