After seeing, and thoroughly enjoying, Troll Hunter a couple of years ago, we’ve been watching Scandinavian films. Let the Right One In and the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo have been our favorites thus far. Prior to our discovery, we envisioned Norway and Sweden as happy little places with boring food, fantastic social medicine, and free upper education programs. However, from what we can now gather they are more like darker and colder versions of West Virginia. We’re not sure if that’s the imagery Norwegian and Swedish filmmakers intend to portray but there sure seem to be a lot of pasty white hillbillies in them there fjords. Børk! Börk! And what happened to all of those hot blonds we were told about? Weren’t Norwegian and Swedish woman supposed to be drop dead gorgeous? Maybe it’s just the Danes. We know the Finns are just zombies, and we don’t know anything about Icelanders since we haven’t watched Jar City yet.
Well, anyway, we just watched Headhunters, a Swedish film from 2011. It was listed in IMDB as a thriller and given how thrilling LTROI and TGWTDT were, we thought there was a good chance Headhunters might be as well. So, here’s our review (note:there really aren’t any spoilers).
Plot Summary: Roger Brown (seriously? Is that a Norwegian name?) is a 5’6″ corporate headhunter that is married to a tall, strikingly beautiful art gallery owner named Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund). Why is his height important? Roger (Aksel Hennie; also in Max Manus: Man of War which we recommend as well) has a Napoleon complex and overcompensates for his insecurities by stealing and selling art to lavish his wife with things he cannot afford. His hubris doesn’t stop there. Roger is carrying on an affair with a short woman named Lotte (Julie R. Ølgaard) which seems counter-intuitive because he loves his wife deeply. Probably something to do with bolstering his ego because he’s terrified of Diana leaving him. Hey, what do we know. We’re not pop psychologists.
As the story progresses, Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a suave, good-looking former CEO of a GPS tech firm in Denmark called HOTE, appears at one of Diana’s exhibits and puts the moves on her. Sensing both a threat and an opportunity, Roger intervenes and invites Clas to interview for the CEO position at Pathfinder, a Swedish GPS tech firm. That night, Diana tells him that Clas owns a rare Rubens painting that disappeared in the wholesale Nazi thievery during World War II. The painting is worth millions of Krone (or about US$500 in today’s exchange rate … OK, just kidding) and its illicit acquisition would help Roger get out of financial trouble. Roger steals it with his accomplice Ove Kjikerud (Eivind Sander) but soon the pair find themselves in deep shit (well, Ove finds himself in the lake and Roger does in fact find himself in deep shit).
The thrills of the movie start to ramp up at this point. Games of duplicity, murder, hiding in excrement in a latrine (really) and of course, headhunting … tracking, chasing, that sort of thing. You get the picture.
It’s a bleak film, which makes sense since we also get moody and depressed when we go without sunlight for long periods of time (we assume all Scandinavians are depressed). Heads-up: there’s quite a bit of violence in the second half of the movie.
Anyway, we rather liked the film. It moves along with a nice clip once it gets going and ends with a clever twist. If there’s any criticism, it’s that Headhunters is not particularly original. Story elements in it are found in so many other thrillers, but kudos to the writers and director for making it just as enjoyable as other great films of the same type. If you’ve seen Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy and enjoyed that, Headhunters is a good choice for a heart-pumping ride.
4 out of 5 stars.
And now, for a moment in geography. Hey, don’t blame us. Our educational system ranks 13th in the world. At least we’re above Sweden.
The reference in the graphic to women from Ukraine marrying Samaritans in Israel is real, by the way. Ah, what a wonderfully weird world we wander in and wonder about.