Sunday, April 15, 2012

Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width

Headhunters is the kind of slick, empty nonsense that would be ridiculed for its two-dimensional characters, unbelievable plotting and seemingly bottomless sadism were it not for the fact that it is set in Oslo, as opposed to LA, and the actors speak in Norwegian, not English.

Not to say that the film is without charm or pleasure, but, why is it that whenever English critics review a film with subtitles, almost all sense of proportion goes out the window and everything is suddenly imbued with meaning?

Certainly, Hollywood doesn't do itself any favours. Having largely abandoned grown-up audiences (by which I mean anyone over the age of 16) to make films aimed at those with a mental age of less than 16, Hollywood has opened the door for European filmmakers to try to fill the gap. The film, which is about an manipulating, narcissistic headhunter and part-time cat burglar who comes a cropper when he makes enemies with a CEO and former soldier who is used to a seven-figure salery plus benefits, thinks it has something to say about corporate greed and moral bankruptcy in 21st century northern Europe, but its insights are ultimately trite and simplistic.

The film fares better when it comes depicting those, odd uncomfortable details that so many Hollywood thrillers gloss over - weighting a body with rocks before pushing it into the water in order to ensure that it sinks to the bottom, befocomming progressively more dishevelled and pains as wounds are allowed to fester. But the film also has a pretty poor line in black humour that was ill-considered at best - climbing into 5' 6'' of sh*t while using a toilet role as a snorkel, impaling an attack dog on the spikes of a tractor-mounted tool - and really do not fit the chilly, 'realistic' schema from which the film draws inspiration.

On the evidence of this passable but uneven thriller, Scandenavian filmmakers are not yet able to match Hollywood at their own game - a game that Hollywood filmmakers have laregly abandoned - but with the likes of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Killing TV series, there are not likely to be a shortage of these things for at least the next few years.


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