Top positive review
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Heart Breakingly Good Film from Iceland.
on 9 June 2012
Gabriel (Atli Oskar Fjalarsson)is slowly realising that he might be gay, he likes his female friends but has no compulsion to do any more than just `hang' with them. So on a summer English school to `sunny' Manchester he rooms up with outgoing and would be hairdresser, Markus (Haralder Ari Stefansson) and after a drunken party they share a kiss. It seems to mean more to Gabriel than Markus and on returning to Iceland his over bearing mother knows something has changed him. So like any caring but annoying mum she calls a family meeting. This involves a painful meeting with both real dad and step dad all trying to be overly PC whilst being border line stalkers.
We also have his best mate, hard drinking and womanising Teddi, who is the exact opposite of the caring thoughtful Gabriel. There are also the tales of his other friends especially Stella and Greta who all have familial and emotional issues which they invariably share with Gabriel in a trouble shared is a troubled halved kind of way. What actually happens is it becomes a trouble shared is a trouble doubled way instead. One has an alcoholic loose moraled mother who won't tell her who her father is. The other is living with an over protective grandmother who doesn't want her to turn out like her mother. They spend their time planning for an uncertain future and having parties where copious amounts of alcohol are consumed as a prelude to non committal sex, except for Teddi (but not always).
There have been comparisons with `Skins' which is unfortunate as this most certainly is not. What director Baldvin Zophoniasson has created is a multi layered tale of kids becoming adults and not really knowing what they are doing. This is a state we have all been through at that particular time in life. The gay strand is one of many issues that is dealt with along with identity, belonging and independence. And I must say there is a lot packed into this 93 minutes, so much so that I have seen it twice and it lost little of its impact on a second viewing.
It is slow in places and it can be said to be overly complicated in terms of breadth, but found it utterly absorbing and both well acted and filmed. I admire most world cinema and think that efforts like this should be applauded. There is little in the way of bedroom scenes as this is more about relationships and I do not think it suffers for it. A well made and presented film that deserves a lot more attention than it has currently received - highly recommended to fans of world cinema but not fans of teen soft porn if that is your bag.