Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
PSIFF ’14: Of Horses and Men
is not a film for little girls who love horses.
Not every equine creature will live to see the final credits, but at
least some will share some hanky panky along the way. Still, the emphasis is on eccentricity rather
than zoology when writer-director Benedikt Erlingsson explores the relationship
between man and beast in Of Horses and
official foreign language Academy submission, which screens during the 2014 Palms Springs International Film Festival.
wrote “good fences make good neighbors.”
Well, the barbed wire fences in this Icelandic highland village are
quite flimsy. Stately bachelor Kolbeinn
is quite the sight on his white mare, or at least single mother Solveig thinks
so. Unfortunately, one of her stallions
crashes the party (see one-sheet for details).
To make matters worse, as various men of the village start dying in sundry
cinematic ways, the new widows become rivals for Solveig.
to everyone’s surprise, young Swedish rancher Johanna proves to be quite the handler
of wild horses, catching the eye of Spanish tourist Juan Camillo. Determined to make a connection, he signs up
for an intensive horseback riding tour.
It ends badly. Remember The Empire
Strikes Back? You will during his excursion.
might sound like a fair amount of plot, but its really not. Erlingsson is sparing in his use of dialogue,
relying more on telling looks. This is a
quiet film, but miscommunication often plays a pivotal role. It looks incredible though. Erlingsson and cinematographer Bergsteinn
Bjoergulfsson work the coastal vistas for all they are worth. Viewers can
easily understand how such a craggy environment would produce these rugged,
their Scandinavian Calvinist reserve, Ingvar E. Sigurdsson and Charlotte Boving
have some nice chemistry as Kolbeinn and Solveig, respectively. The entire ensemble
feels right in their roles, convincingly looking like an uncomfortably tight
knit community. Of course, Sigridur Maria Egilsdottir stands out in a good way,
as the dynamic Johanna.
For a (sort of) rom-com, Horses boasts a seriously impressive body count. Despite its easy going vibe, it is definitely
not for younger viewers. Its blend of quiet meditation and macabre humor was
obviously not to the Academy’s tastes either, considering it did not make the
cut for the nine film short list, but it is quite distinctive. Recommended for
those who like striking scenery and a dose of fatalism in their movie romances,
Of Horses and Men screens this coming
Wednesday (1/8), Thursday (1/9), and the following Saturday (1/11) as part of
the 2014 PSIFF.
Labels: PSIFF '14, Scandinavian Cinema