I watched a screening of this film along with 4 other shorts in Oslo a little while back, and after reading the plot-outline in beforehand I was skeptical about the whole thing, expecting a premature action/gore fest with every gangster-film cliché possible.
I was positively surprised by what was presented on the screen; "Soul's Mirror" is a suspenseful and moving drama which was the complete opposite of what I expected. The first thing which really stood out was the high quality acting and dialogue. Director Frode Graadahl deserves much praise for his writing, directing and casting. Åsmund Brede Eike's portrayal as Alex has an emotional palette I've never seen in a short-film before. Driton Llapi is a find as a wiseguy who brings both horror and humour in an otherwise very bleak film. Mette Holt is a cynical femme-fatale I'd love to see more of, and so is Abdilamit Shabani whose portrayal of the Albanian mafioso with such authority that he could be an eastern- European Tony Soprano.
The film itself starts out slow, but then builds up to a suspenseful climax where the outcome is surprisingly unpredictable. The action scenes are of particular high quality with no CGI as far as I could see - some of the most, if not THE most brutal and realistic violent scenes I've seen in a Norwegian film. These are however never portrayed in a speculative matter - they are what violence really is: unpleasant. Graadahl also makes a point of portraying both the assaulter and victims as human beings and how the violence affects them. Graadahl balances the violent scenes with scenes between Silje Reinåmo and Åsmund Brede Eike which has some portrayals of moving tenderness and sadness, and these are also very beautifully shot. A few scenes in this film as also very funny, giving the audience a breather.
There are however a couple of technical flaws in this film but they are forgiven considering the high quality of the script, directing and acting. The fact that Soul's Mirror has an almost microscopic budget, makes me excited for what the director would be able to accomplish with real funding.
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