Print Story A smugglers tale and a Danish thriller.
By Tonatiuh (Fri Oct 24, 2008 at 01:35:48 AM EST) (all tags)
Yesterday London Film Festival's movies:

- Frozen river (a tale in the US's border) @@@@

- The candidate (Danish Bourne identity, in the cheap) @@@

Frozen river (tale of an unlikely people smuggler in the US's border) @@@@

Although this movie was clearly not made with the financial debacle in mind, it feels like a perfect tale of things to come for lots of people.

A mum living in a small town close to the border is struggling to make ends meet, Christmas is fast approaching and the pile of debt keeps accumulating, her part time job as a shop assistant wholly insufficient to meet her economic needs. Her dream house (a prefabricated abomination that is much better than what she has now) was ordered, but the initial payment is at risk because she has not managed to come up with further payments. Desperate situation, which will be the daily tale for millions of people everywhere during the next couple of years.

Her children ( a teenager that is fully aware of the dire situation and a little boy that still believes in Santa) feed in popcorn and soda and long for a father that left them to pursue his gambling addiction.

The woman tries to find her husband during her spare time (plenty), while following the best track of him so far she comes across a Native American woman who has a business proposition for her, this involves crossing a frozen river in the border in question: the US-Canadian one, taking advantage of a Native American reservation location and its independent legal status.

The Native American woman lives on her own in a trailer, her daughter taken away from her by relatives because she could not support her, after the death of her husband.

The business (which nature I will not reveal to you) goes relatively well and both women continue their uneasy alliance (there are very tense moments) but eventually the police get involved and a bad run over the river, intended to be the last, during Christmas Eve, force the women to make choices with serious consequences for them and their respective children.

The history feels raw and real, the acting talent of  Melissa Leo, a relatively unknown with 20 something years acting experience, is a revelation. I went quickly through her CV and I am dumbfounded how it comes such talent hasn't being used in bigger movies. It may be that she is not the prettiest of women and Hollywood said no?

I hope she gets a nomination for any of the big acting prizes out there.

Thoroughly recommended.

The candidate (Danish Bourne identity, in the cheap) @@@

This is a somehow convoluted history that follows the tribulations of a lawyer (all the action happens in Copenhagen) who is obsessed with the circumstances that led to the death of his father, also a lawyer. He suspects some serious foul play from his dad's last client and has done precious little for a year but to investigate about his dad's accident, being close to concluding it wasn't an accident at all.

From there his world goes downhill. By a set of circumstances he finds himself blackmailed, he pays the money he was requested but still this does not seem to be enough. Nevertheless he starts to discover inconsistencies in all what is happening to him, a bit by investigative acumen, a lot by luck, or so it seems.

There are bits of action where expensive cars are wrecked, chasing sequences in Copenhagen, murder, fights, mysterious characters and all what you come to expect of thrillers nowadays. That all this was done with a budget of $4 000 000 (i.e. very cheap) is a testament to the inventiveness of the director, who during the Q&A session went to some lengths to explain how he did it.

Now, lets not get carried away, the movie is good but it looks pedestrian, one can't help it but to think about Bourne and Bond while watching, nevertheless it is still lots of fun and one can do far worse by watching soulless thrillers that keep coming relentlessly from the Hollywood machine. This movie has a completely different aesthetic sense combined with solid acting, so it is still a worth watch, just do not expect all the bombastic action that Mr Bond is providing in a cinema near you.
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