WILD MEN (Vildmænd) (VIDA SALVAGE)
(director/writer: Thomas Daneskov; screenwriter: Morten Pape; cinematographer: Jonatan Rolf Mose; editor: Julius Krebs Damsbo; music: Ola Fløttum; cast: Rasmus Bjerg (Martin), Rune Temte (Henrik), Sofie Grabol (Anne), Bjorn Sundquist (Øyvind), Zaki Youssef (Musa), Marco Ilsø (Simon), Jonas Bergen Rahmanzadeh (Bashir); Runtime: 104; MPAA Rating: NR; producers:Lina Flint; Nordisk Film/Blue Finch; 2021-Denmark-in Norwegian with English subtitles)
“Offbeat midlife crisis comedy.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Danish filmmaker Thomas Daneskov (“The Elite”) is the writer-director of this offbeat midlife crisis comedy shot in Norway. It celebrates the innocence of its misguided man-child protagonist, who wants to live like the Vikings of the past he admires (believing men are better off living alone). The co-writer Morten Pape loads it up with deadpan humor, as the film explores themes about masculinity, identity and doing your own thing.
Armed with a bow and arrow, a strapping large-framed forty-something fur coat wearing amiable Danish suburban family man of two young girls, Martin (Rasmus Bjerg), leaves his long-suffering wife Anne (Sofie Gråbøl) without telling her he’s leaving for possibly good and goes to a remote area in Norway to live off the land to hunt wild animals in the mountains. At a petrol station, the starving hunter, after being in the woods for 10 days, comes down from his mountain in search of snacks, beer and smokes, as he tries to rob the convenience store using an axe as a weapon for bartering. The puny world-weary widowed local police captain Øyvind (Bjørn Sundquist) chases after Martin, and is joined by Anne when informed of the store incident.
On the road Martin runs into a fellow Dane, a hash smuggler named Musa (Zaki Youssef), who, after a car crash with an elk, is injured. Unbeknownst to him he’s being chased by his two psycho colleagues (Marco Ilsø & Jonas Bergen Rahmanzadeh) who were passengers in the crashed car, whom he thought died and took off with the gang’s money. His colleagues recover and threaten to do great harm to him when they catch him. Meanwhile Martin patches the wounded Musa up and decides to help him reach his destination, as the misfits join forces to become a team. Musa is heading for a traditional village on the other side of the mountain, where there’s a gathering of folks wanting to live off the land (it turns out the place is not as pure as advertised in the brochures and the village residents rely on smart phones and other modern conveniences).
The two men try to work out their personal problems and the obstacles they currently face while on the run to see if they can return to civilization and adjust to it after their time off the grid.
The film is crowd-pleasing, and the two misfits over the course of time show us their good side so that they’re seemingly worth rooting for.
I found it funny in spots and in other spots a failed Coen brothers’ type of film, and to its credit the cast was made up of colorful characters in an original story. But it remains loopy and when it tries to turn profound it becomes unintentionally funny. It offers a happy ending that’s sentimental and too unreal to be credible.
It played at TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL 2021.
REVIEWED ON 5/27/2022 GRADE: B –