OUT STEALING HORSES (UT OG STJAELR HESTER)
(director/writer: Hans Petter Moland; screenwriter: based on the novel by Per Petterson; cinematographer: Rasmus Videbaek; editors: Niolaj Monberg, Jens Christian Fodstad; music: Kaspar Kaae; cast: Stellan Skarsgard (Trond), Bjorn Floberg (Lars Haug), Tobias Santelmann (Trond’s father), Jon Ranes (15-year-old Trond), Sjur Vatne Brean (Jon), Pål Sverre Hagen (Jon’s father), Danica Curcic (Jon’s mother); Runtime: 123; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Hakon Overas, Turid Oversveen; Helgeland Film; 2019-Norway/Denmark/Sweden-in Norwegian & Swedish with English subtitles)
“It’s an honest film about a likeable guy, but is too subdued to get you excited.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland (“Cold Pursuit”/”A Somewhat Gentle Man”) follows the style of the Dickens novel David Copperfield, which it refers to in the film. It’s an earnest but bland drama based on the 2005 international bestseller by the Norwegian novelist Per Petterson.
The Swedish guy named Trond (Stellan Skarsgard) has moved in 1999 at the age of 67 to a remote woodsy section of Norway after his wife of 38 years died in an auto accident. He’s happy to be alone, living a quiet life in his cabin, and keeping his social distance from neighbors as he does nothing much but think about his life and what it means. Though he tells us a lot, we never learn what he’s trying to tell us.
Out walking on a snowy night, Trond encounters a younger man, walking his dog. Trond recognizes the man as Lars (Bjorn Floberg). He’s someone Trond knew as a small child, who was Trond’s neighbor in a rural area where both lived, Trond spent time with the kid’s father.
Via flashbacks, the narrative returns to the traumatic 1940s, to a time of the Nazi occupation of Norway.
The introspective drama tells us both of Trond’s frisky life at 15 and life of seclusion as a senior citizen. We learn a lot about him in both periods, but nothing that’s important. All the character wants to do is think about his life and wonder how it took him here. He also has fond memories he spent with his father one summer, who lived in isolation in a cabin, in the woods. That summer was the last time he was with his father, a member of the resistance.
The title refers to the time when the young Trond (Jon Ranes) stole horses with his close friend, Lar’s older brother, Jon (Sjur Vatne Brean), while roaming about in the forest. But it also refers to being in opposition to the Germans.
It’s an honest film about a likeable guy, but is too subdued to get you excited.
REVIEWED ON 9/6/2020 GRADE: B-