Monogland

Published on: March 23rd, 2004

MONGOLAND

5/10

Norway 2001
director : Arild Ostum Ommundsen
script : Ommundsen, Gro Elin Hjelle, Eigil Jansen
cinematography : Trond Hoines
editing : Erik Andersson
music : Cloroform
lead actors : Pia Tjelta, Kristoffer Joner, Vegar Hoel, Reidar Wayne Ewing
84 minutes

“There isn’t much to rap about in Stavanger,” moans a wannabe-homey from the chilly Norwegian port where, contrary to expectations, they hardly ever see snow. But everybody finally gets what they want in this low-key, low-budget comedy about twentysomething pals returning home for Christmas: chiefly Pia (Tjelta), who’s keen to get back with her bug-eyed, Christopher Walken-obsessed boyfriend Kristoffer (Joner) after six months in England.

The script is likeable, in a hand-me-down kind of way – we’ve seen amiable, quirky characters like this in TV dramas and arthouse movies for ages now. And it’s filmed in a very rough-edged way, like a student film that’s been slightly tarted up, that can’t hide the fact that there’s no real substance beneath the charm. Ommundsen’s idea of structure is to continually flick back and forth between the present (b&w) and the past (in colour), and his handling of a climactic party scene is painfully stagey. But when he trusts himself to go hand-held, he pulls off some flashes of real visual flair that suggest he yet have a future beyond those strangely snowless streets of home.


13th December, 2001
(seen Dec-6-01, Kinomaja, Tallinn, Estonia – Black Nights Film Festival)

by Neil Young
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