Blóðberg poster.

Meet Gunnar (Hilmar Jónsson), a popular best-selling writer in his fifties and clear evidence that self-help books should be taken less seriously. Gunnar is the main character of Icelandic dramedy Blóðberg (Homecoming, 2015), directed by Björn Hlynur Haraldsson. The plot of the film would be somewhat far-fetched had the events taken place somewhere else than in Iceland with its small and bizarrely intertwined society.

“Some people are insane,” sighs Gunnar’s wife Dísa (Harpa Arnardóttir) in the beginning of the film while leafing through a daily newspaper with fresh town gossip. She and Gunnar have been together since their teens and have by now almost run out of ardor towards each other, becoming bored with daily routine. But this is about to change.

Their son Davíð (Hilmir Jensson) comes back from a holiday with a new girlfriend, Sunna (Þórunn Arna Kristjánsdóttir), whom he introduces to them at dinner. Sunna is pretty and witty and has a sweet disposition—all trumps to gain approval of potential parents-in-law. Raised by a single mother, she gets slightly sad when asked about her father—she doesn’t even know who he is. As Sunna reveals some details about her childhood, Gunnar has a horrible realization.

Terrified and desperate, Gunnar now faces a series of problems he’s used to guiding other people through. But his own situation doesn’t propel him to follow the instructions he would give to someone else.

Enter Gunnar’s mortally-ill brother Gestur (Sveinn Ólafur Gunnarsson), who has recently survived the fifth surgery of his head only to get news from his doctor (Erlendur Eiríksson) that he needs another one. Gestur decides instead to enjoy the time he has left, drinking a strange Arctic thyme (blóðberg in Icelandic) mixture prepared by his girlfriend (María Heba Þorkelsdóttir) every day, which she believes may keep him alive. “There is nothing more difficult than asking for forgiveness,” Gestur tells Gunnar, advising him to do what is right before it’s too late.

Just as it seems you have the plot all figured out, the story takes an unexpected turn.


Blóðberg is produced by VesturPort Production. It will be screened at the Chicago International Film Festival in October and released on DVD later this year.

Yaroslava is a journalist focusing on environmental issues, intercultural dialogue and problems of threatened identities. Before she moved to Reykjavík to do her master’s at the University of Iceland, Yaroslava had been working mainly in Ukraine.

She started as a staff reporter in daily news program Time at 5 TV Channel specializing in politics and culture, then contributed to the local edition of National Geographic and several national newspapers such as The Ukrainian Week and Mirror Weekly. During the revolution of 2013-2014 in Kiev, she was Icelandic national broadcaster RÚV’s fixer.

More Reviews