(director/writer: Hlynur P almason; cinematographer: Maria von Hausswolff; editor: Julius Krebs Damsbo; music: Edmund Finnis; cast:  Ingvar E. Sigurdsson (Ingimundur), Ida Mekkin Hlynsdottir (Salka), Hilmir Snaer Gudnason (Olgeir), Bjorn Ingi Hilmarsson (Trausti), Elma Stefania Agustsdottir (Elín), Sara Dogg Asgeirsdottir (Ingimundur’s wife), Haraldur Ari Stefannson (Stefán), Sigurdur Sigurjonsson (Bjössi), Arnmundur Ernst Björnsson(Hrafn), Þór Tulinius (Georg); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Anton Mani Svansson; Film Movement; 2019-Iceland/Denmark/Sweden-in Icelandic with English subtitles)

“A powerful and detailed off-beat character study.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Icelandic filmmaker Hlynur Palmason (“Winter’s Brothers”) creates a powerful and detailed off-beat character study of a mentally wounded middle-aged man growing increasingly aggressive as he tries to come to terms with his life as a recent widower. The story is shaped by the harsh weather in the region, as it opens with a quote from unnamed sources that “The dead can still talk to those who are still living on certain days when the white of the sky matches the white on the ground.”

Grief overtakes the retired Icelandic police officer Ingimundur (Ingvar E. Sigurdsson), who lives on a large horse farm in an unnamed remote small town. His beloved wife (Sara Dogg Asgeirsdottir), in the fog, for no reason just drives off the side of the empty highway road, smashing through a barrier and dying in the accident.

When unable to adjust to life while grieving for his teacher wife he sorely misses, he’s ordered to undergo counseling with the police department’s therapist Georg (Þór Tulinius). But Ingimundur forms no relationship with his rigid therapist, who in one session asks him to define himself and is coldly told that he’s “a father, a grandfather, a policeman.” The therapy seems to be doing him more harm than good, spurring him on to let go of his repressions and become aggressive.

What keeps bugging the cop is that he for a long time suspected his wife was having an affair, and now obsesses over that when his daughter, Elin (Elma Stefania Agustsdottir), gives him a box of his wife’s things. Going through her personal items, he discovers that she was having an affair with the local married man Olgeir (Gudnason), whose son was in her class. Ingimundur schemes to join the same football club to keep a check on him while plotting his revenge.

What brings great joy and comfort to Ingimundur is being with his refreshingly defiant blonde 8-year-old grand-daughter Salka (Ida Mekkin Hlynsdottir), his married daughter Elin’s sweet child. Salka’s innocence, self-assurance and exuberance makes him relish being in her company and being protective of her. What also motivates him in a positive way, is that he’s finishing a building project on his vast property. A property he inherited from his dad and shares with his brother.

At times Ingimundur is not an easy man to root for, as he has bad fits and displays aggressive behavior to his two former colleagues at the police station. But the performance by Sigurdsson is so textured and winsome, playing a character determined to carve out his own space so he can clearly see things, that we can forgive him for his short-comings and feel only sympathy for him. That is those who liked the film, if you were turned off by his aggressiveness you most likely won’t like the film.

REVIEWED ON 4/16/2020  GRADE: A-