Impressive story about accidents, regrets and mercy, making up a drama and thriller alike
I saw this film at the Berlinale film festival 2012, where it was part of the official Competition section. In the midwinter season with a continuous (night and day) 100% darkness in Hammerfest, a women runs over someone or something when driving home. Rather than leaving her car and going back to see whether someone needs help, she panics. At home she tells her husband, who returns to the spot in question to investigate. He finds no trace of what could have hit the car.
It is not until the next day that they hear about a young girl who died due to a hit and run incident at the very same place, but no evidence was found to trace back who caused her fatal injury. From that moment on, events take their inevitable course and each subsequent step makes it more difficult to come forward. Moreover, a confession does not bring the girl back to life.
This is where my synopsis stops. I want to prevent wasting an ingeniously constructed script, where all ingredients have their proper place. A handful of human elements and sub-plots are thrown in, though not making it overly complex to follow. An example of a human element is that we observe the woman when at work in a hospital, while terminally ill patients are taken care of. A smaller sub-plot is that we see the husband at work in a "gas factory", where he has a love affair with a colleague.
A more important sub-plot (in light of the title) is that the son takes part in pestering an alleged gay schoolmate. It causes the latter to drop school prematurely. The son regrets his part in the bullying, and he visits the victim at home, in search for some form of "mercy". The confrontation does not work out as he would have wanted, however.
Is it a drama or a thriller?? Or both?? On one hand it is a drama, because everyone tries to find the best way to cope with the situation, not necessarily the human or moral best thing to do, yet they struggle to find a way out. On the other hand it is also a thriller, because throughout the full 2 hours and 10 minutes you want to know what will happen next.
The whole story spans from midwinter (100% darkness, night and day) to midsummer (the reverse), all of that located in Hammerfest, offering a colorful but harsh landscape. We knew of its existence but we never had the chance to see it with our own eyes. It forms a perfect location for the drama that we see developing. And there is the even-so perfect combination of human elements, a few sub-plots and a wonderful collection of actors. Finally, I sincerely hope that above text does not give away too much about the thriller elements, since the built-in surprises were also very important for my appreciation of this movie.
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