enforced the prohibition of alcohol from 1915 until 1935, maintaining the ban
on strong spirits until 1989. Can such a
country have an appetite for cocaine?
Sure, especially if it is 100% pure Peruvian. As the millennium approaches, a young
degenerate witnesses the Icelandic drug trade’s changing of the guard and “misplaces”
a shipment of said goods in Óskar Thór Axelsson’s Black’s Game (trailer
screens during the 2012 Fantasia Festival.
“Stebbi Psycho” is considerably less volatile than his colleagues. Nonetheless, he is the one with an assault
charge hanging over his head. Just after
his release on bail Stebbi crosses paths with old childhood chum Tótí. Lucky or not, it will be a fateful
encounter. Soon thereafter, Stebbi joins
Tótí’s narco-gang, getting their high-price defense attorney on his case, as
part of the bargain. Things get a bit
violent when Tótí decides to take down the old school Studio 54-ish rival
outfit. However, when the seriously
deranged Brúnó takes over their operations, the blood and mayhem really ramp up
Game proves what our
mothers always used to tell us: sleepless four-day coke benders are not
conducive to good business decisions.
Indeed, Stebbi makes some awfully bad choices, but he is not alone. To be fair, it is not just the drugs clouding
his judgment. He is also distracted by
Dagný, his blonde cokehead party-girl colleague in the drug-trafficking network
(that happens to be modeled after Herbal-Life).
is often the case in such films, our out-of-his-league protagonist is the least
interesting character in Game. In contrast, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhanesson is
charismatically ferocious as Tótí (looking somewhat like a young, pumped-up Tor
Johnson, who can act), but he is not the real villain here. That would be the appropriately
Mephistophelean Damon Younger oozing slimy evil as the serpentine Brúnó. While Maria B. Bjarnardottir is an intriguing
screen presence as Dagný, Axelsson makes it intentionally hard to draw a bead
on her character, obviously dropping hints about her motivations, but leaving
them all naggingly unresolved.
casts human nature in rather brutish and pessimistic terms, it should not dissuade
anyone from visiting Iceland. In fact,
the surrounding landscape is quite striking (in a Nordic kind of way) and the
nightlife looks like its jumping. Axelsson
certainly capitalizes on both. While it
periodically tries too hard to shock, Game’s
energy and attitude are impressive.
Recommended for those who enjoy pitch black, sharp-edged crime
bacchanals, Black’s Game screens
Wednesday (8/1) as part of this year’s Fantasia in Montreal.
Labels: Fantasia '12, Gangster Films, Scandinavian Cinema