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|Index||28 reviews in total|
I went into this screening without any prior knowledge of the film, and
I was pleasantly surprised. Well acted and well directed, this is a
more mature and deeper "thriller" than we're accustomed to. The story
is compelling with enough twists and turns to keep one interested, but
what was really riveting was the fact that the movie wraps up neatly
but in a thought provoking way, unlike so much predictable Hollywood
fluff nowadays. It is a thinking person's film and I appreciated that.
One other thing I wanted to note on was the tone: dark, bleak, isolated, and barren. From the acting to the cinematography, the director really nailed this feeling in everything from the characterizations to the visuals. Just something I really noticed.
This movie shows what's great about film festivals. So many movies, and
they're not tied down to every Hollywood cliché in the book.
The way Little Trip plays out is hard to describe. Forest Whitaker plays an insurance investigator, a company man. He comes to know Julia Stiles' character, a vulnerable housewife living with an unpredictable screw-up (Renner) on barren tundra.
The relationship between Stiles & Renner was intricate yet believable. And the relationship between Stiles & Whitaker is surprising. I didn't see the ending coming, which I appreciate always. I'm so tired of formulaic thrillers. This movie reminded me of movies from the 70's - the good old days when every plot point wasn't spoon fed. It has style and feeling like classics from that time too.
I was really surprised by this screening. I had heard of the director's
foreign-language movies but never seen them. So I had not much to go on
except that I like the actors... I knew it was a thriller of some kind
but didn't expect it to be a thinking person's film. Basically, the
movie is an investigation into a mysterious death. But the characters
involved have layers and secrets to them as well.
Julia Stiles was ravishing as always, Forest Whitaker very convincing, but I was most drawn in by Jeremy Renner. He's a sneaky actor in a good role. Also must mention Peter Coyote, glad to see him in anything.
Anyway, I enjoy movies with twists and turns, and this one had plenty. It was atmospheric and ultimately satisfying.
This was an intriguing, although not satisfying,, movie and one I still
felt was worth my few bucks I paid to rent it.
It was filmed in Iceland - one of the few films I've heard of with that locale - but the story in the film takes place somewhere in Midwestern America. I knew that going in, so it made it kind of strange to view, in that respect. However, the story seemed very realistic. In parts, it almost felt like a documentary, it was so real and atmospheric.
However, as much as I enjoyed the movie, and particularly Forest Whitaker with his odd accent, the ending was a big disappointment. The film had so much promise up until then.
Some people say this film had the feel of a Coen Brothers movie, and I agree with that. To some, this might also have been a bit slow or boring but I thought it had unique atmosphere to it. With a more satisfying ending, I would have bought the DVD and watched it several more times.
After a suspicious fatal car accident in Hastings where the identity of
the victim was forged, the Quality Life insurance company sends their
smart investigator Abe Holt (Forrest Whitaker) to identify the body.
The unique beneficiary of the one million dollars death benefit is the
sister of the victim, Isold (Julia Stiles), who lives with her son Thor
and her husband Fred (Jeremy Renner) in a poor cabin in the middle of
nowhere. Along the investigation, Abe discloses the truth about the
fraud, but feels sorry for Isold and Thor and tries to help them with
"Little Trip to Heaven" has a good premise, showing both sides of the insurance policies, with some fraudulent cases of clients and questionable procedures of the companies themselves. The story is good, with a suspenseful atmosphere in a dramatic and tense situation. In spite of the very disappointing conclusion, this movie worth watching. My vote is six.
Title (Brazil): "A Fraude" ("The Fraud")
Great movie, amazing to see see how they used the countryside of
Iceland to display a small town in the USA. As well as the scenes from
the "big city" which where all shot in Reykjavík the capital of
Iceland, where they only put American signs on the buildings to turn it
all into an American city.
The story is really good, all the unexpected twists and turns keep you interested throughout the whole movie.
I also have to make a comment on the soundtrack, incredible work by the young Icelandic artist 'Mugison'. A solo guitarist with incredible talent. The lyrics are great and the rhythm of the music fits the story perfectly.
I got a chance to see this film in Toronto and I have to admit I've been thinking a lot about it since. Visually, it's so beautiful... and yet stark and haunting (apparently it was filmed in Iceland). But what I really found engaging was that it was a noir-esquire mystery but with a very realistic feel. When opportunities present themselves for the film to go down a formulaic road, it doesn't. There's something strangely real about the film, from the first-rate acting, to the dark tone, to the deliberate pace... I think the director's decision to give this film dramatic weight will set it apart from other mystery/thrillers (I feel weird even trying to categorize it). Maybe it's just me, but I can't stop thinking about it.
I love the characters that Forest Whitaker usually portrays in his
movies: soft einzelgangers who are balancing on the thin line between
good and evil. In this flick he's playing an agent for an insurance
company who tries to dodge off the claims of their clients. He does a
pretty swell job, scrupulous and efficient. But then he stumbles upon a
messed up couple who are trying to file a claim over a dead brother.
Our protagonist feels that there is something wrong, and he dives in
the lives of the two to find any sleaze and dirt. And, as expected , he
does find something that can stir things up.
This movie reminded me of ''Fargo'' and '' A simple plan ''. Like in those flicks, ''A little trip...'' deals with the brutalities that people will do to each other out of pure greed. It's also about the cruel way of thinking that a life insurance can make up for the loss of a human life, and how insurance companies like you to believe that. It's a modern film noir with an excellent cast, a beautiful soundtrack and atmospheric sequences in the rain or snow. Maybe the tone is a bit too sad and nihilistic for the big crowd, it definitely deserves more than the meager 6 it's receiving here.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A LITTLE TRIP TO HEAVEN is a strange little Indie film by Icelandic
director Baltasar Kormákur, a young director with some very fine ideas
but with a script (written both by the director and Edward Martin
Weinman) 'that is so spongy that the impact of the film relies on the
considerable qualities of the cinematic images. Filmed primarily in
Iceland with some scenes in Hastings, Minnesota, the mood is dank and
dark and cold - and so is the story.
We first meet insurance investigator ('adjustor') Abe Holt as he listens to his boss Frank (Peter Coyote) explain to a new widow why she will not receive full death benefits because the insurance company took photos of her husband smoking, the apparent cause of his death. Abe just sits in the background but we know he is in tune with the fraudulent activity of the insurance company. Almost immediately he is assigned to a new case: an ex-con with a million dollar life insurance policy has apparently been found dead in a car crash burned beyond recognition. Abe drives to the tiny snowy desolate village where his questions of the townsfolk reveal that the victim was Kelvin Anderson, the brother of Isold (Julia Stiles) who is married to a low life type named Fred (Jeremy Renner), a man who we have seen in flashbacks as the one responsible for arranging the car crash and setting the car on fire. Abe sneaks around the town, spies on Isold, and becomes involved in the investigation in more ways than the honest one. It is the interplay of the three - Abe, Fred, and Isold - that provide the intrigue and mystery of the apparent framed insurance scam.
The screenplay is so full of holes that it is difficult to follow the case's development. The actors are superb artists: Forest Whitaker made this film almost simultaneously with his Oscar winning 'The Last King of Scotland' yet here his character is plagued by an affected accent and by the lack of substance that might make us care about his plight; Julia Stiles does her best with the little she is given to do and Jeremy Renner is convincingly menacing without any factors that make us find him worth caring about. The supporting actors (Joanna Scanlan as a sleazy bartender, Iddo Goldberg and Philip Jackson as the police, Alfred Harmsworth as the 'son' of Isold, and Vladas Bagdonas as the coroner) actually fare better than the leads as far as material available.
The strong aspect of the film is the visual imagery, due to the decisions of picture composition by Kormákur and cinematographer Óttar Guðnason and Mugison's musical is apropos for the mood. But the film remains grounded and a bit on the confusing side because of the director's lack of unity. One wonders why Whitaker, Stiles, and Renner signed on to this little film. Grady Harp
This somewhat awkward transition to American markets finds Icelandic
director Baltasar Kormákur a bit over his head with this little
mystery. In effect, A Little Trip to Heaven plays a bit like the
watered down, third-rate cousin of the thriller Insomnia (nothing
spectacular to begin with), although here most potential intrigue is
crushed by the deadening weight of a charisma-lacking direction. A
talented trio of actors do help elevate the often lifeless direction,
but the movie does take an even greater toll by employing Forest
Whitaker in the misguided lead. A shame to be coming out on DVD so
quickly after his triumphant academy win, Whitaker's questionable
Canadian-esqe accent paired with the boring, underdeveloped character
he is written here just proves too bland for lead role material.
Co-stars Jeremy Renner and Julia Stiles do offer more inviting
Difficult as the actual lack of energy beaming off the screen may be, the film is not without it's subtle shade of merit. Beyond the b-grade artistry lies a filmmaker with a promising talent for composition, often showing his best, least obvious strength when setting up succeeding, more important shots. As well, the script might have seemed a lot more convincing when on paper (which would explain some of the big name interest), offering a humbly ambitious, localized little guessing game centering around insurance fraud. Sadly, the adaptation to screen just does not gel in any real compelling way, though the detail oriented plot should throw enough curve balls to keep mystery buffs afloat.
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