Monday, August 15, 2016

Norway – review


Director: Yannis Veslemes

Release date: 2014

Contains spoilers

Norvigia, in the original Greek, this is an art-house film that had a very unreal feel – offered through the use of models and the design of the sets. Despite the title it is set in Greece, in Athens to be precise, but it is not an Athens that you would imagine.

The film is set in the 1984 and Yannis Veslemes does manage to infuse the film with an eighties feel but the film, itself, starts upon a train.

model train
Zano (Vangelis Mourikis) is placing newspaper against the window of his carriage. The train, when seen in external establishing shot, is clearly a model train on a model railway. There is no attempt to hide this, no kidology that the train is real and I was struck by a feeling of Dellamorte Dellamore (1994) that was imbued into the film. On the train we see a passenger who looks suspiciously like Einstein and several soldiers who seem uninterested in answering Zanos’ question regarding reaching Athens. Eventually they get there.

Athens
Zano gets to an Athens that looks much like a model that might have been used in a Fritz Lang film and heads to the Cine Star theatre – where his friend Jimmy (Yannis Bostantzoglou) is meant to live and who has invited him to stay. On his way in he meets an older hooker and, when he gets to Jimmy's, finds a plush coffin waiting for him. He is sat in the old theatre when the hooker approaches him. They kiss and off screen he feeds on her, leaving her bloody corpse in a bath. Following this he rings a funeral home, searching for Jimmy’s whereabouts.

seeing Alice
He goes to the Disco Zardaz and meets a variety of idiosyncratic characters including Theresa, an elderly lady who steals drinks, a virtually toothless vampire (bar his fangs) who hasn’t touched blood for ten years as he is addicted to heroin and the Captain, Marko (Markos Lezes), owner of the disco who used to be a film star and who rescues Zano from the dance floor when he collapses, stoned. Also in the disco is a woman, Alice (Alexia Kaltsiki).

yellow blood
Zano follows her into a restroom, whether out of lust or hunger is debatable, but he finds her sharing drugs with a Norwegian drug dealer called Peter (Daniel Bolda). In a perfectly protracted scene Zano attacks Peter and, as he feeds, blood spurts from the dealer’s neck. However, his blood is day-glo yellow and the scene becomes part surreal, part violent and works really well because of it. He tells Alice that he was going to bite her but he changed his mind. The two leave together, taking Peter with them as he starts to turn (he also seems to have become mentally simpler). This leads to a brief roadtrip but Alice meeting Zano was probably not as random as it seemed and leads to a meeting with a man who claims to be Bram Stoker but who may be someone far more sinister.

is he Bram Stoker?
It’s hard to explain Norway’s plot as there is a surreal element that would not be out of place in a Guy Maddin script. Werewolves are mentioned – but unseen – and Zano, who is forever dancing, claims he must keep moving or his heart will stop. He is physically very cold – something Alice points out during sex, has a reflection and he is fine with garlic. At one point we get a song, “Dracula, Dracula, Dracula” which is sort of an easy listening Mariachi track!

Zano reflected
Vangelis Mourikis keeps the viewer entertained as Zano and there is a chemistry that works between him and Alexia Kaltsiki. As to whether you’d like the film, well that depends on whether the idea of a surreal arthouse vampire film from Greece tickles your fancy. I enjoyed the film and think that 7.5 out of 10 would be a reasonable score.

The imdb page is here.

2 comments:

Alex. G said...

So... A movie named Norway which has nothing to do with Norway?

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Peter is from Norway ;)