Irish Film Institute -Pusher


Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Frank (Kim Bodnia) enjoys all the status his underworld life affords, but when a heroin deal goes awry and the merchandise is dissolved in the local lake, he suddenly discovers that his erstwhile friendship with a Yugoslavian drug lord had soured. Day after day, with increasing desperation, Frank tries to come up with the money he owes but as the violence escalates, so too do the unexpected circumstances that conspire against him.
Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn had named Martin Scorsese as an inspiration, and there’s certainly an air of Mean Streets about the unglamorised Copenhagen neighbourhood. There are also a couple of nods towards Trainspotting – note how the key characters are introduced up front with names flashed on screen – but Pusher bristles with a documentary-like fervour. These guys are the genuine article. The most remarkable element of a truly shattering debut is Dodnia’s performance as Frank – a real low-life for sure, but someone with a soft heart who’s frustrated by his inability to show emotional or physical affection. In a world of bad guys and worse guys, we fall for him. When he’s left stranded in the final shot, his troubled face brings to mind Bob Hoskins at the end of The long Good Friday, and we share in his despair.

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