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A man, having fallen in love with the wrong woman, is sent by the sultan himself on a diplomatic mission to a distant land as an ambassador. Stopping at a Viking village port to restock on supplies, he finds himself unwittingly embroiled on a quest to banish a mysterious threat in a distant Viking land.
This grating, pompous film suffers from so many flaws that it is as difficult to compile a complete list as it is to identify the fatal one.
For starters, the script stinks. It's got too many characters in it, too many strands of action covering too many different moods. It simply doesn't know if it wants to be gritty realist drama about nihilist kids, lonely old people, workaholics and alcoholics, a warm human comedy, a love story, another love story, a message film or a Robert Altman-style ensemble piece. As a consequence, it doesn't work as either of the above.
One notices very quickly that most of the actors aren't good enough to play around their characters' being underdeveloped, underwritten cardboard cutouts. Neither do they seem to have had much in the line of direction. Thus, bad dialogue is delivered badly, making the viewer want to hide under his seat most of the time.
It's also badly shot. In the director's previous film, 'Når nettene blir lange', the impossibility of actually seeing what went on was due to the questionable choice of shooting a dogme film (in which no artificial lighting is allowed, you remember) in a pitch-black cabin in the mountains in the dead of winter. In this film, the impossibility of seeing what is actually going on is due to the restless, shaky (handheld?) camera, the cramped closeups and the incessant cutting. In the rare instances that the film manages something like an establishing shot, the colours and scenery are actually rather pretty, making the viewer wonder why the director doesn't want to show it to us.
Materials surrounding the film claim that its aim is to show a class of humans, namely 'regular, everyday people', going about their everyday business. At some point, someone must have realized that this makes for boring stories, and so melodrama was added, both in terms of action and emotion. Sadly, the melodrama doesn't help. It's this in particular that gives the impression of a filmmaker desperate to shake up the cinematic world of make-believe without knowing the first thing about neither make-believe nor drama. Do not waste 100 minutes of your life on this film unless you want to learn how NOT to make a movie.
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