Review by Zoë Robert.
“You live in a land the world envied and you let a few banksters destroy it. All you ask your politicians is not to take your flat screen TVs from the mansions you couldn’t afford in the first place!”
Marteinn Þórsson’s 2011 film Stormland (Rokland, based on the novel of the same name by Hallgrímur Helgason) opens with Böddi (played by Ólafur Darri Ólafsson), a poet and school teacher obsessed with the Saga hero and outlaw Grettir, holding a young woman and doctor hostage at a hospital in Reykjavík.
Set in the pre-crash years, Böddi goes on a verbal rampage about the hyper-consumerism, greed and apathy which characterized Icelandic society at the time.
As the film progresses, the viewer comes to learn about the events of the past 12 months and what ultimately causes Böddi to crack.
Böddi has just returned to the village of Sauðárkrókur (population 2,741), North Iceland, after a decade in Germany. Frustrated with society, Böddi plans to change the way Icelanders think. On his blog, he preaches morality, referencing the ideas of Nietzsche.
His obsession with Grettir repeatedly lands him into trouble. He veers from the school curriculum to teach his students about an example of a ‘real hero’; he loses his job after a fieldtrip to the island Drangey, where Grettir lived as an outlaw, ends with one of his students being injured.
Misunderstood by the small community in which he lives and now unemployed, Böddi, just like Grettir, is increasingly an outlaw.
His brother Viddi (Stefán Hallur Stefánsson), a sex addict, father of five with four separate women, and an actor in advertisements for a bank, doesn’t escape his preaching either: in Böddi’s eyes, he is what is wrong with society.
And there’s more drama in Böddi’s personal life. He can’t have the woman he loves and finds out he is a father after drunken sex with Dagga (Elma Lísa Gunnarsdóttir). After the initial shock, Böddi suggests they live together as a family, arguing that “those who have a kid together should be together.”
Böddi has had enough with small-town living. Ready for his revolution to save the “lost motherland,” he heads south to the capital on his horse Nietzsche.
Overall, the film is entertaining and offers a sharp critique of Icelandic society but there are gaps in the plot. Important aspects of the story or characters, only discovered after reading up on them, are skimmed over making it difficult to follow at times.
Stormland can best be described as a black comedy, with some brilliant references to the insanity of the pre-crash years.
As for the acting, Ólafur Darri as Böddi delivers a standout performance in what was his first unsupported lead, earning him an Edda, Icelandic Film and Television Awards, as Best Actor.
Zoë Robert – [email protected]