The higher you fly, the smaller you appear to the flightless.
Elma Lísa Gunnarsdóttir
Hilmir Snær Guðnason
Lára Jóhanna Jónsdóttir
Lilja Guðrún Þorvaldsdóttir
Ólafur Darri Ólafsson
Stefán Hallur Stefánsson
Steinn Ármann Magnússon
Running Time: 111 minutes
US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 18
Stormland is a tragicomedy and advert for Fathers For Justice from Iceland based on the book by Reykjavik 101’s Hallgrímur Helgason. The story follows Böddi (Ólafsson), a gruff, slightly pretentious but loveable bear of a man, whose life in a small town in the North of Iceland goes from flatly depressing to all round disaster in the space of a year. The movie opens with Böddi holding a gun to a surgeon’s head before flashbacking to the events – including losing two jobs, apparently getting the town bicycle (Gunnarsdóttir) pregnant and having his Mum die on him – that have a profound effect on his mental well-being.
There’s quite a bit of topicality to Stormland. The events are played out in post-super-recession Iceland as Böddi rails against what he’s sees as a morally and literally bankrupt capitalist society and the one banker who does turn up is a complete jackass. Also, in the aftermath of the Breivik shootings in Norway, Stormland shows some eerie parallels (I know Iceland is not Norway and they are completely separate entities but from the films I’ve watched from Scandinavia and Iceland they all have a similar Northern European post-Viking feel to them).
The environment of the northern reaches of Iceland are used to excellent effect here as they bleakly explain why Böddi is so depressed living there – it’s not just the people but the unforgiving landscape too. It’s looks even better when used with the atmospheric, poetic narrative of the lead character. Böddi is a great character – very enjoyable to watch and a lots of time is spent getting to grips with every facet of his personality. We see his tender, angry, sarcastic, downtrodden sides as different inconveniences befall him. At times, I just wondered if the scene was set a little too well and the writer wants to give Böddi too many excuses for going postal. A little space for us to make up our own minds would be good.
Just a little note to end with. There are two versions to Stormland and I saw the shorter ‘International’ one. Apparently, the other one is a little less linear and contains animated fantasy sequences and flashbacks, if that’s your thing (and you speak Icelandic).
It's Got: Almost perfect characterisation, bleak but impressive cinematography, topicality
It Needs: A little space for us to make our own mind up about Böddi
Alternatives:101 Reykjavik, A Serious Man, Oxygen
Stormland is a decent recession era tragicomedy from Iceland. Watch for lashings of bleak landscapes, one of the best characters to come out of Northern Europe and a horse called Nietzsche.