Either Way

Reviews

Either Way

Review by Katharina Hauptmann.

either_way

Either Way (Á annan veg) premiered back in September 2011 and has since become one of Iceland’s most successful films with six awards and ten nominations.

Rightfully so, in my opinion.

The movie, produced by Flickbook Films and Mystery Island, is the impressive debut feature of Icelandic director Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson.

When writing the script to Á annan veg, Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson and co-writer\actor Sveinn Ólafur Gunnarsson had a low budget in mind, so there aren’t really any special effects or huge set pieces and props, it’s all about the human relationships and the characters.

About the plot: Set some time in the 1980s, two men working for the Icelandic Road Administration spend a summer together painting the markings on a remote highway somewhere in the countryside.

Finnbogi (played by co-writer Sveinn Ólafur Gunnarsson) and Alfreð (Hilmar Guðjónsson) aren’t much alike. Finnbogi is a diligent, serious and quiet man with a strong sense of responsibility who is in a faithful long-distance relationship with a woman called Rannveig with whom he frequently exchanges letters. As a favor to his girlfriend, he works with her younger brother, Alfreð, a bubbly and talkative young lad who’s only interests are parties and to get laid. Confined to the remote and isolated countryside with nobody else around but themselves, the two personalities clash.

Alfreð and Finnbogi barely tolerate each other at first, but ultimately share their deepest questions and possible answers about life and love. This results in hilarious and heart-warming moments such as the wheel-barrow race, Finnbogi’s heartbreak over an unfortunate letter and Alfreð's attempt to masturbate in their small tent. Watching Finnbogi and Alfreð’s relationship unfold is touching and most entertaining.

Either Way is quiet, simple and subtle but just in the right amount to not create boredom thanks to the character-driven plot. The film stands and falls with its lead actors. Sveinn Ólafur Gunnarsson and Hilmar Guðjónsson deliver fantastic performances and make for an endearing and convincing odd couple. What the movie lacks in action, it has in human interaction.

Worth mentioning is also Árni Filippusson’s excellent cinematography which is sumptuous and often speaks louder than words and perfectly captures the majestic Icelandic landscape.

Just like me, Hollywood fell in love with Either Way. I’m very curious to see the remake starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch.

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I am also pleased to announce that this gem of Icelandic film culture is now finally available on DVD with English subtitles. It is available for purchase on the webstore shopicelandic.com.

Katharina Hauptmann – katha.hauptmann@gmail.com

Katharina Hauptmann is a freelance writer by day and a barmaid by night. The Erasmus student exchange program brought her to Iceland in 2006 and she fell passionately in love with Iceland and made her permanent home in Reykjavik. She spends her time writing, reading and observing people.

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