Baltasar Kormákur – 101 Reykjavík (2000)
Hlynur is the ultimate slacker. He sleeps all day, drinks all night and fails to maintain any kind of sensible relationship with members of the opposite sex – except for his mother whose home he still lives in. Life is pretty simple in a depressing and dull sort of a way until Hlynur sleeps with a beautiful Spanish houseguest (the wonderful Abril) who it then transpires is his mother’s lesbian lover…
This is a wonderful black comedy with Hlynur being an extreme example of a nerdy mother’s boy who hadn’t a clue how to grow up since he’s never needed to, until his life suddenly changes without warning. The construction of the relationship between him and his mother is particularly realistic and touching (as well as funny); a highpoint of which is a wonderful scene where she slowly and unsurely comes out to her incredibly distracted son.
Hlynur is played with just the right blend of hopelessness, uselessness and self pity required and, though fairly unlikable to begin with, he grows more sympathetic. That much of his geekiness and depressive personality are more or less retained throughout this process is a credit to the quality of the acting and writing here.
Giving a marvelously judged performance as Hlynur is Hilmir Snaer Gudnason who is certainly worth keeping an eye on in the future. As the exotic love interest Victoria Abril is her usual stunning and intelligent self making her attraction to both Hlynur and his mother totally credible. Meanwhile Hlynur’s mother is an appropriately important but low-key figure and her own vulnerability and increasing confidence are both subtly evident in the background of Hlynur’s world.
Outside of the central plot Hlynur’s friends (classic disaffected youth) and the wonderfully awful family reunion scenes are very funny, as are his challenging appointments with the government unemployment people.
Add stark shots of the city, a dramatic Icelandic landscape and a capable score from Blur’s Damon Albarn (who also happens to own a bar in Iceland’s capital city), and it is easy to see why this film could earn considerable success. One of the best films I’ve seen in months – it will leave you smiling to yourself all day!