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Øyenstikker is a stick in the eye of big budget films.
An edge-of-the-seat thriller that delves deep into the dilemma of blind loyalty and how long that loyalty can last as it threatens to destroy all around you.
An ex-con stumbles across a long-lost, but not forgotten, partner-in-crime. As the chance encounter turns into a night of celebrated reunion "after 5 years....without even a visit", the subtle hints of debts unpaid begins to unravel in a sinister, yet, compelling fashion as Øyenstikker brilliantly contrasts the calmness and idyllic backdrop of the Norwegian countryside with the dark undertones of unbridled jealousy and bitterness.
If you liked Fargo you'll love this gem.
"Dragonfly" is a superbly acted Norwegian film that works at many
levels. Ultimately its message is that we can only overcome feelings of
anger, resentment, etc., by making changes within ourselves, not by
trying to change other people's lives. If however you are not in the
mood for introspection it still works well as a simple story. The
characters are very real, and I find it hard to believe that they do
not exist somewhere in Norway, which is always a sign of a good film.
I cannot however agree with the recommendation "If you like this title, we also recommend. What Lies Beneath", the two films could hardly be more different.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
We have been here before - the young couple craving peace and quiet away from it all - the entry of a third party disturbing their equilibrium, bringing tension and menace. Two notable examples have been "Knife in the Water" and "Harry, un ami qui vous veut du bien". In the former (skilfully directed be the young Roman Polanski and possibly the finest of the genre) the young man the couple give a lift to on the way to their boating holiday is less a figure of menace than the catalyst that lowers their emotional defences. Harry, on the other hand, graduates from mere irritation to pure evil, a crescendo that ensures the film a high place among suspense melodramas. "Dragonfly" lies halfway between the two. Like Harry, Kullman, the intruder, has previously been known to Eddie, the male partner, this time from a period they spent in prison. Eddie has adopted a quiet life with his girlfriend Maria in an idyllic lakeside setting and soon regrets inviting Kullman back to their home after a chance meeting at a filling station. He has after all gone to live in the deep Norwegian countryside to forget his past and start a new life. Kullman, on the other hand, is obsessed with the idea of getting even with the person who contributed towards putting him and Eddie inside and in order to win Eddie round to the revenge idea needs to stay longer rather than being packed off by the couple. the central section of the film deals with the extent he will go to in order to achieve this even to the point of inflicting injury on himself. Kullman is the most morally ambiguous of the third parties in the films I have mentioned. He doesn't quite fulfill our "bad guy" expectations, ending up rather more as a figure of pity. Certainly our final sighting of him, or rather his car, backing away from Eddie and Maria's refuge would suggest capitulation or perhaps even a redemption . By adopting a leisurely lyrical style with sweet music and almost wall-to-wall sunshine, the director, Marius Holst, never quite succeeds in conveying what is in effect a plot with many more possibilities for resonances of unease. Everything is just a little bland and ultimately rather unmemorable. Not that one needs darkness, lightning and thunder to make an effective thriller. I remember a little offering from way back in 1970, "And Soon the Darkness", which sent shivers of fear down me as an unknown psychopathic killer tracked down vulnerable young women during the course of their cycling holiday in France. It all seemed to take place in bright sunlight. I guess the success of a psychological thriller ultimately boils down to the skill with which a director paces his work.
I saw this film at the 2002 Chicago International Film Festival. I really enjoyed the film as I was (and still am) completely mesmerized by Maria Bonnevie. Holst's use of digital video really captured how beautiful she truly is. She isn't the only good thing about this movie though. The relationship between Eddie and Kullman is rather interesting. After having spent time in jail and taking the rap for Eddie, Kullman sees Eddie at a gas station. From there, things can only go downhill. Kullman wants Eddie to help him shake some guy down that owes him money. Eddie refuses until he gets sick and hallucinates (?) that Kullman and his wife Maria are screwing around on him. Eddie, who may once have been a thug, seems to have changed. He takes a neighborhood kid fishing and tries to teach him to swim. He has changed from his previous life. This all coincides with Maria becoming pregnant. I do have to say that the scene where they go to shake the man down was a little disappointing and anticlimactic. Nonetheless, it was an interesting way to show how old ghosts come back to haunt you. I gave this film an 8 and would highly suggest it to anyone. If anyone knows how to get a copy of this in any form here in the States please post it because I would love to own a copy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Eddie is a chubby beardy bear of bloke living out in a big wood
timbered farmhouse next to a lake with his young girlfriend Marie; far
away from everyone and everything ."All i want is you" says she. "And i
want you" says he. Cushty. Maria is up the duff.
But somebody is going to ruin this lovely life in a minute. Cue Kullman. He too wants some of what they want.
"You have a good life" says Kullman envious. "Want to play a game?" He gets them both to close their eyes. Boo! "You knew something horrible was going to happen. And then it did. That's what makes it so terrible" says Kullman. Maria doesn't want to play. She's sussed his game.
After this I'm suspecting Kullman is going to be a menace in a psycho nutcase kind of way. And as if to confirm this suspicion he's deliberately sliced his leg with a chainsaw to get to stay longer. She knows. Then neighbours dog is in boot of Kullmans car dead. Claims he ran over it. Next, a nearby barn is on fire.
"She's too good for you" says Kullman to Eddie. And for a while Eddie goes a bit bonkers with jealous rage.
A distinct change has taken place: it's Eddie rather than Kullman who is "ruining everything" stamping about and chucking tiles off the roof. His aggressive old thuggish self is jumping about, scaring Marie off. Kullman, by contrast, seems like a little boy lost, just wanting to belong, be accepted, be included; share in some of the good stuff Eddie has been having (living here in this rural idyll with the lovely Marie) The Bad Guy role has been subtly switched. Gradually, I'm feeling more sympathetically inclined towards Kullman which i guess is what i was meant to feel.
At the end Eddie comes back to his cuddly - huggy baby - bear self again. Although he does give a metaphorical slap to Kullmans face: "You were never really a friend, not really". And Kullman is left there, friendless, alone, unwanted, rejected. Yes, i did feel sorry for him.
Its a relief the film hasn't got all silly with contrived thriller genre plotty twists and potty turns. It's kept true to its melancholic undertow, mostly stayed close to its quiet Norwegian roots.
I just saw this film for the second time.
For me it's one of the most enjoyable Scandinavian films of the millennium.
Great acting by the 4 leads (especially the little boy) and very intriguing surroundings.
And it's not only entertaining, there's lot's of subtlety in the story,watch it over again if you missed that! I also like the free-wheeling style, there's plenty of nudity shown in a funny way (Michel Persbrandt full frontal and Maria Bonnevie topless, mmmh!) , obviously some keywords missing here...
Not at least: The soundtrack is beautiful and fits the film perfectly!
My vote is 8,5 / 10
I saw this film at the 2002 Vancouver International Film Festival, mainly because I wanted to see if it could transcend the typical limitations of a low-budget thriller. Well, it does. . . and it doesn't. The director gets great performances from his three main actors, and he crafts his material with a strong visual eye. But the story laps into incoherence about half-way through, and it fails to deliver an emotionally satisfying ending. Close, but not close enough.
Wonderful pictures, attention to detail, and very talented actors. It's a
shame that the story is too slow without any actual release. After an
initial comment by Mikael Persbrandt's character I personally kept waiting
for "something bad" to happen all through the movie.
In the time-honored tradition of Scandinavian drama there will be shouting and full frontal nudity. Typical "wannabe serious moviegoer's" favorite, 4/10.
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