Aberdeen (2000) Poster


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Riveting, spellbinding, and not for everyone
George Parker24 July 2002
In "Aberdeen", a young London attorney (Headey) goes to Norway to retrieve her long estranged alcoholic father (Skarsgard) and escort him to Aberdeen, Scotland for a last visit with her dying mother. Along the way, a simple journey becomes an odyssey of discovery as the 15 year separated father and daughter get to know the best and the worst of each other. The principals in this harsh, bitter, poignant, and sincere drama bust some serious acting chops as they flesh out their characters with shades of anger, hostility, vulnerability, courage, and quiet caring. A beautiful film for those into serious no frills drama. (B+)

Note - Shame on Tivo for giving this critically acclaimed audience pleaser a meager two stars.
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Superlative performances, great storyline - one of the best of the year
timelord-319 May 2001
Showing as part of the European Film Festival currently in Brisbane, Aberdeen is a strong, narrative driven movie of a daughter sent to Norway by her dying mother to bring back her father so that the terminally ill mother can see him and her for the last time before she dies.

All the performances in this stellar outing are first class. Stellan Skarsgård as the alcoholic, former oil rig working father is simply outstanding. He plays a man losing a battle with the bottle so convincingly that it makes you seriously wonder whether he has personal experience on which to draw from for his performance.

Charlotte Rampling plays the cancer-stricken mother; even though she spends the majority of the movie talking over the phone from her hospital bed she brings to the character a dignity that is totally believable.

Ian Hart plays a English truck driver who stumbles across the daughter and father returning home from Norway and helps them out. With his shaved head I hardly recognised this veteran actor - but he again puts in another superlative performance as he comes to grips with the dynamics at play in this unique family

But the standout performance is that of Lena Headey, playing the daughter entrusted with the task of bringing her errant father to Aberdeen. She's also someone battling with their demons - she is a drug addict, nympho and does not take to trusting people easily. Having to bring home her father (whom she hates) to a mother (whom she also hates) is yet another thing to speak poorly of and bemoan her lack of a life.

I thought Lena was a relative newcomer to the acting scene - but a cursory look at IMDB revealed a wealth of acting gigs that I was not aware of. But 'Aberdeen' has to be one of her first leading roles; she is one to look out for in the future.

She won the Silver Iris award for Best Actress at the Brussell Film Festival last year.

The movie is described as a 'dark road movie'. Now when I watched it it didn't appear particularly dark - perhaps that says more about what I class as 'dark' in a movie than the tag line writer for these movies! It certainly is 'real', and 'gritty'.

If you get a chance to see this one when the festival rolls into town (some states haven't got it yet so you may still get a chance) you wouldn't go far wrong with this as one of your choices.

9 out of 10.
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Harsh reality
JesNollie27 June 2002
A wonderfully written and acted, but depressing road trip movie. As a favor to her dying mother, a young woman must find her alcoholic father (played by Stellen Skarsgard, who is heart-wrenchingly convincing in the role), who abandoned them when she was a child. As they travel together, they must face both the past and present. But don't expect a Hollywood feel-good reunion movie, this is much more harsh and real.
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Heart wrenching film
fergie1234515 January 2004
Heart wrenching film that knocks you down, then lifts you up only to knock you down again. It is tough to see the desperate alcoholism of Tomas, particularly in the scene where he is mocked, bullied, and beaten up by well dressed drunken strangers whom he approaches to buy cans of beer.

Stellan Skarsgård is brilliant as the drunken father, and so is Ian Hart as the saintly lorry driver. This film will give you an insight into the dynamics of a family ripped apart by addiction and our need to see dignity in those closest to us.

There were a couple of things that could have improved this film for me. Firstly, the principle character, Kaisas scottish accent is somewhat unconvincing. Secondly, all urban scenes in the odyssey through Britain from Harrow to Aberdeen, are shot in the city centre and west end of Glasgow. This really affected the realism and appeal of the film for me.
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Fantastic acting in a movie about real people.
michaelcain2 November 2002
This is a typical example of the difference between European and American film. Real people doing real things reacting like real people do. I'm little bit tired of these Hollywood "feel-good films", there the ugly and shy guy always ends up with the love of his life, which always is the most beautiful girl in the world.

Fantastic performance from all the actors and a touching story, makes this a film I strongly recommend.
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Every Alcoholic shoud see this one
Tony Hooten (odaat)5 February 2002
Not always easy to watch as an alcoholic hits his bottom to go with his daughter to visit her dying mother. I was moved and just knew whoever wrote and or directed this movie knew about alcoholism, as turned out to be the case when I watched an interview after the movie on the independent channel. There is a haunting and very beautiful theme song in this movie. I just wish it was releashed on a sound track!
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Great film, brilliant cast
AKS-623 May 2001
A Norwegian film in English, with a Swedish actor in a leading role. International, to say the least. Aberdeen is a touching, funny and sad film about relationships. Mainly the relationship between parents and children. Stellan Skarsgård, one of the greatest actors in the world, is as brilliant as ever. He plays drunk most of the time, but he does it in a subtle way. When his character is humiliated because he needs a beer you can feel it through the screen. Skarsgård is a wonderful actor. Ian Hart is also a great actor and I always enjoy watching him in a film. Lena Headey impressed me with a nuanced and touching performance.

Aberdeen is a great film and the cast is brilliant. (8/10)
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Agreed - Heart wrenching film
delphine09012 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I came upon this film by accident while scouting for Charlotte Rampling films. Ms. Rampling is only in a few scenes, but I was so mesmerized by the rest of the cast that it didn't matter. Someone said that Stellan Skarsgård is "the best actor ever". I can't attest to that since I'm learning via films like this that we don't see the best there is if we don't scour art houses. He does, however, give a performance that would be considered Oscar worthy had the film been more mainstream (i.e. if it had been seen by more people). Skarsgård's acting is unflinching, from inside the character, and technique free. We need to see more of him in lead roles.

The entire cast is excellent. So much of the story is told without words - a towel wrapped around a waist instead of covering breasts, a man secretly observing his daughter's pain, a lover's halting, wordless goodbye, characters' emotions playing subtly across their faces. The story is wrenching.

And in another break from mainstream films, everything isn't tied up neatly in a bow at the end - we are not told what happened "ever after" to these characters. We can decide for ourselves what comes next. We are treated like adults, not told what to think, not overly indulged with explication, not bashed over the head with morals or lessons. Just a study of the dynamics of a family who love each other desperately and who each show it in their own damaged way.

Excellent film.
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reminded me of my own father
william_blake29 May 2002
very touching movie..the acting performances are fabulous, 'aberdeen' is very realistic piece of film. almost shockingly realistic.

it was great to see a movie like this for a change. i've seen so much of these music-video-goes-hollywood-goes-kungfu movies, that a movie really ABOUT SOMETHING was nice again..

i can't say it would've been a perfect ten, for that you'd need much more originality. but very well done, and obviously the actors liked the directors, since they are giving their very best.
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Non-cliche road movie
numen86827 January 2002
I am not the biggest fan of what I call "road movies." This is one of those movies about the road in a metaphorical sense, with life as the real journey. But this movie was not the typical cliched type of movie. It was well acted and directed, a must see.
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Moving depiction of difficult father-daughter relationship
neoreal-122 March 2002
This is an emotionally acute, well-acted, visually interesting drama. The direction and editing are excellent. The plot is compelling. There is some intense graphic violence, but it can be seen as functioning in the situation as a means of breaking down the characters' defensiveness. I was not aware that there were such severe penalties in Great Britain for possession of drugs.
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Aberdeen is an understated melodrama in the European tradition
jeffreyfgold12 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Aberdeen is an excellent character-driven film. It is one of the best films I have seen in a very long time (now that we have to slog through gargantuan archives of direct-to-DVD films just to get to the few good ones). Charlotte Rampling's line, "Sometimes ugly can be nice" captures the film's characters very well. Stellan Skarsgard, Lena Headey, Ian Hart and Charlotte Rampling are superb in this understated, European (English language) melodrama. Both the beautifully sparse cinematography and Preisner's "childish" score work very well subtextually. The plot is driven by destination and deadline, and this road movie uses every scenario to develop or reinforce character traits. The dialogue is equally sparse and terse, leaving the audience to fill in the blanks to diffuse the dramatic tension. I highly recommend this film, especially if you're not afraid of delving into some Scandinavian melancholy. I give it a 10 for being emotionally engaging and differentiating itself from a bevy of moribund films and/or lifeless protagonists whose goals are inconsequential; the characters in Aberdeen are tragically flawed, but one cares for them. Deeply.
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Dark Road movie
berntn4 December 2000
A story of a daughter bringing her alcoholic father to her dying mother in Aberdeen. Stellan Skarsgaard (European Film Awards nominee) plays the Norwegian father to perfection, and Lena Headey also give a strong performance as the estranged daughter who's had too much life experience too young. Hans Petter Moland is moving into world class with this one!
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Captivating - I was completely hooked
peedur28 May 2001
I began watching the film on the Sundance Channel today and I couldn't turn away, for all the right reasons. I wanted to find out how these people would make sense of the chaos in their lives and how or whether they'd meaningfully connect. It was shot with beautiful subtlety. For all of the pain and anger evident in their outward behavior there were traces of genuine human weakness and need which gave the relationship played by Headey and Skarsgård a fragile realism.

There aren't many films where a character's struggle for redemption or self-revelation appear in a realistic manner. Hearts rarely repair themselves in real life with the timely schedule we see so often in films. This film shows restraint in this area; as a viewer I was heartbroken by their frailty and delighted to see it as a creative decision. The actors did a terrific service to the story by holding true to that restraint.

I wanted to watch it again as soon as it was over.
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Unflinchingly Accurate
valis194917 February 2009
'Addiction' as a genre of film is jam-packed with predictable content, but ABERDEEN is a cut above the rest. Stellan Skarsgards boozy downward spiral is a home-video into the real world of alcoholism. Too often the alcoholic is portrayed as if locked in some sort of heroic struggle, however, real drunks stumble, fall down, puke, and create emotional havoc in their own lives and everyone around them. This film also adds a fresh look at The Alcoholic Intervention Model. In this movie, the one who is spearheading the intervention is arguably in worse shape than the beneficiary. ABERDEEN is an unflinching look at the nature of addiction with a bold, well written abrasive script.
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A long strange trip worth taking.
dynagirl13 March 2008
It's not that often that I delve into movies past to find something to watch, but I've been so impressed with Lena Headey's work in "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" that I've been checking out her past work. Boy am I glad I saw this one. What an outstanding film. Aberdeen is a pretty heavy character-driven drama, so I'm sure it's not for everyone, but I was pulled into this film from the start and it never let me go. Every time I thought I knew where the story was going to go next, I was happy to be wrong. And the performances alone from Stellan Skarsgård and Lena Headey really make this emotional journey well worth taking. Highly recommend.
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Skarsgard is magnificent
raymond_chandler29 January 2006
I rented "Aberdeen" because I love Lena Headey and have been catching up on her work. The fact that Ian Hart and Stellan Skarsgard are also featured only made this film more attractive. I was not disappointed.

All the acting is good, including Charlotte Rampling in a difficult, passive role, but Stellan's portrayal of a wrecked man is astounding. He nails all the outward attributes of alcoholism, but never overdoes it. His eyes tell us all we need to know as his character slowly finds some piece of his own humanity buried deep inside. Astounding, when one compares Tomas to, say, the smoothly lethal Gregor from "Ronin", or the monstrous Cerdic from "King Arthur". Stellan is one of those actors whose mere presence on screen is riveting.

The story itself is simple, but this movie is all about the journey, literally. We are all damaged in some way, but holding on to bitterness and resentment for past wrongs will destroy oneself more effectively from within than any outside force can do.
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Where I first fell in love with Headey...
beasymc14 January 2006
Isn't it wonderful how out of nowhere you can get hit with a film like this. I was hypnotized by Lena Headey from the start and i couldn't let go. I wondered where they were hiding this wonderful actress and began searching for answers.. Still haven't found any. Could hardly find anything about this movie. Blockbuster of course didn't have it and I haven't seen it played on the Sundance channel since. But no matter, it will remain with me forever...Lena by the way had a couple of movies this year ("The Cave" & " The Brother's Grimm" ) what a waste of this interesting actress. And by the way, have you seen the movie credits of Ian Hart. Whoa! More movies than Michael Caine. Anyway, if you get a chance, stay with this one. It was worth its weight in gold.
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Raw, Touching Road Trip
noralee20 December 2005
"Aberdeen" is a road trip of a father-daughter relationship. But with raw, uninhibited performances by Stellan Starsgard (as an alcoholic Norwegian oil rigger) and Lena Headey (with a thick Scotch brogue).

Charlotte Rampling is a very effective deus ex machina mother bringing them together with a goal and a deadline, while Ian Hart is memorable as the nice, normal guy thrown into their war, helping to restore their sanity. One of the most romantic scenes I've seen in the movies in years is him simply wiping her brow, while the dad looks on uncomfortably.

The route and fine details of this picaresque film are unpredictable, as they find Aberdeen and themselves. (originally written 8/31/2001)
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oranxg4 February 2003
it's hard to describe this film....kind of slow and dull at times, and yet it definitely leaves you with an impression. What the director is trying to get across i cannot say for sure, but what i can say is that this film conveys, almost imposes a certain somber mood upon the audience, especially with the use of color (primarily blue, gray, and everything in between). It reminds me of another film called il mare. But anyways, the acting is excellent. I had never heard of Lena Headey before but she was absolutely fantastic. It's unfortunate how acting of that quality is in short supply in the U.S. Also, i thought it was a nice touch how the director began the film with Kaisa being the responsible, well dressed one while the father was the slovenly drunk and then reversing the roles towards the end of the film. Although i am still thinking through the meanings....
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This is what acting is all about
mishory14 October 2002
I saw this movie In the 2001 Haifa film festival. The movie was shown without subtitles, and it was a little hard to follow at first, I admit. But this excellent movie has a way of engulfing the viewer, whether it is on a big screen or on TV.

The talented actors in this movie are directed beautifully by Hans Molland, and I myself will try to catch more of his films and follow his career. Stellan Skarsgård plays the part of an alcoholic middle aged man with so much authenticity and depth, that I find myself completely identifying with the character on screen. Lena Headey gives a stunning performance herself. the reversal of roles towards the end of the movie is graceful and subtle, as the actors follow the brilliant script.

The movie progresses smoothly across several layers of depth, and as the main two characters evolve in opposite directions, the audience is taken for a physical, as well as psychological, trip with them. The combined methods chosen by the script writers and the director make this an unforgettable movie, and for that I give it a solid 8/10.

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Lena Headey is an undiscovered beauty!!!
theronman20015 October 2001
Starting with Diana Rigg, Olivia Newton-John, Sheena Easton and Nicole Kidman, Lena Headey is the heir apparent to my list of fantasy women with British accents. Oh yeah, she is an excellent actress also.

In many ways the movie was depressing. However, if the writers and directors were trying to express/display a dysfunctional addicted family... they succeeded brilliantly. In an era of man bashing the interjection of Clive (Ian Hart) as the Good Samaritan truck driver was refreshing.

The ending leaves you pondering the final outcome ... ala "The Lady or the Tiger". All in all, the movie is worth the time and money.
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Something happened on the way to Aberdeen
Jostein Strand (Jos-5)21 August 2001
The acting is good, the director is good, the script is ok, so it ought to be a good movie then. Some critics have mentioned that if this is a road-movie they should have met more essential people, I don't think so. It isn't the trip that's important in the film, but the growing understanding between father and daughter. The film succeeds in doing this but you'll sit wondering what the movie really was about long after the end credits are over.

Maybe that the relationship between parent and child bring out the best in people, or just that alcohol is dangerous for your health.

Even thou the movie is Norwegian the English dialogue works (because of the British actors perhaps) and I'd like to see more Norwegian movies doing this. Norwegian movies biggest fault is that the dialogue read right out of the script, no flow.

See this movie, and all other Moland films, you'll not be disappointed. (at least not much)
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A true gem!
Exiled_Archangel22 April 2004
Aberdeen is a unique piece, with an interesting soundtrack, PERFECT acting, and an outstanding plot. As mentioned earlier, it's so very European with its realism. Slow, but rewarding. Also, I think Stellan Skarsgård is the best actor ever! Not just this movie, but his other stuff as well. Especially Insomnia and this one. He's just brilliant. I've also seen his son on Ondskan, so I'll simply try to watch every movie that has anything to do with the Skarsgård family from now on! I can only think of Rutger Hauer who might be as good as him. Lena Headey is also adorable. She's got goddess looks, and the best of acting skills. Such great actors and a nice story makes Aberdeen a wonderful movie.

Aberdeen is nothing like a Hollywood movie, but despite what it seems, neither is it exactly one of those movies which are crowned by intellectual-wannabes as masterpieces just because they're boring as hell.

If you like Tarkovsky or Klimov, you'll dislike this movie. If you like Hollywood, you'll hate this movie. (And it'll hate you too!) If you weren't disgusted by the superficiality of Love Actually, you'll be disgusted by the depth of this movie. But if you're interested in the works of relatively new generation Scandinavian directors, then Aberdeen will look fine to you.

All in all, it could have been much better with, say, Lars Von Trier, but it's also pretty darn good as it is.

8.5/10 - Recommended!
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bebuisro30 January 2011
I looked up this movie after falling under the spell of Lena Headey's acting (I'm not ashamed saying it, apparently it's a very common phenomenon).

I have to say it's one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. Stelan Skarsgard is disturbingly natural in his role of drunken piece of s...t , and Lena does a great job impersonating his screwed up daughter.

The storyline is nothing out of the ordinary, but what touches you is the cruel reality exposed before your eyes. I still don't understand how, by putting two very flawed characters together and by showing them living their ugly and sometimes disgusting life, you can end up with such a beautiful and heartbreaking story. I can't believe this movie is practically unknown! Lena is right to be proud of it. Hats off for her performance!
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