Thriller: Jar City
With the absolute glut of lame crime-dramas clogging up television schedules these days, it’s hard to imagine anyone pulling off a decent crime-thriller. It’s even harder to imagine someone managing to create a film that not only surpasses all the crap on TV, but actually gets pretty damn close to the likes of SE7EN. What’s not surprising is that you have to go all the way to a volcanically-active island country, in the North Atlantic Ocean, (to the south of the Arctic Circle) to find it.
Set in Iceland, JAR CITY (originally titled Mýrin) follows the investigation that ensues following the discovery of an old man’s corpse. Assigned to the case is detective inspector Erlendurm, a grizzled, worn, but tireless cop and father who, with the help of his team systematically follow every lead, even the ones which seem impossible. As the investigation deepens it becomes clear that this murder is somehow connected to the death of a child 30 years earlier.
On top of traipsing around countryside which makes the moors of Scotland look like they’re bathed in California sunshine, Erlendurm must also deal with, and repair, his heroine addicted daughter.
JAR CITY is a gloomy and unrelentingly bleak — yet oddly beautiful — movie which deserves far greater recognition in the non-Icelandic speaking world than it has currently received. In its homeland Jar City won major film awards for Best Film, Best Soundtrack, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. Hopefully, with it’s recent (rental) release here, it will start to get some wider recognition.
This film, despite being artistically atmospheric and engaging, will do little for Iceland’s tourism, and it will do even less for Iceland’s standing on the stage of world cuisine — honestly, the most graphically disturbing part of this film is dinner — but what this film does do is highlight that there is some talent worth exporting amongst the country’s tiny (300,000) population.
My only complaint about watching this release is that I was forced to skip back a few times while watching the DVD, because the subtitles disappeared a little too quickly for my shoddy eyes to keep up… but for that we can blame my surgery (and grade 3 reading ability), and not the makers of this fantastic crime-thriller. [source]