Erik Poppe – DeUsynlige aka Troubled Water (2008)

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AMG: How does one start anew after a checkered personal history threatens to extinguish all hope and the possibility of redemption? Such is the question that lies at the heart of De Usynlige, Norwegian director Erik Poppe’s earnest psychological drama of second chances. Pal Sverre Hagen stars as Jan Thomas, a young man fresh from an eight-year prison sentence. The catalyst for his incarceration may have been an accident and may have been a premeditated murder, but regardless, the event still hangs over Jan like a dark shroud, tempering his memories and his actions. Upon release, Jan – a talented organist – lands a job in the local church as an organ player, and begins to develop feelings for Anna (Ellen Dorrit Petersen), a female priest who also happens to be a single mother. To avoid complications and protect the sanctity of the new relationship, Jan silently vows to withhold information about his troubled past from Anna, but the past catches up with him in the form of Agnes, a schoolteacher who visits the church and recognizes Jan – as the man responsible for her young son’s death. Continue reading Erik Poppe – DeUsynlige aka Troubled Water (2008)

Jens Lien – Sønner av Norge (2011)

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It’s 1978 and 14-year-old Nikolas is living an idyllic existence with his young brother and his archetypal, politicized hippie parents, the energetic Magnus (Sven Nordin) and the angelic Lone (Sonja Richter). When Lone is killed in a car accident, Magnus falls into a deep depression. Nikolas has nowhere to turn until his best friend proudly slaps his latest purchase on the turntable: The Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks…. (The film was executive produced by former Pistols leader John Lydon, who plays a pivotal role in the movie.) Soon enough, Nikolas finds a new use for safety pins and buys a guitar. The real rub – and much of the comedy – comes when his father partially snaps out of his depression. Instead of disciplining Nikolas, Magnus encourages him. It may be hard to rebel, but it’s even tougher when your father is listening to the same records as you. Lively, entertaining and insightful, Jens Lien’s Sons of Norway is one of the funniest and most charming coming-of-age stories to come out of the Nordic region since Fucking Amal. Continue reading Jens Lien – Sønner av Norge (2011)