life gets cheap in a hurry for those who treat people like cargo and charge by
the head. For some considerable time, a trafficking ring has operated with de
facto impunity ferrying desperate clients across Slovenia’s alpine border with
Italy. Not all of their customers make it safely across. An honest Slovenian
cop and an unknown subject with a grudge aim to stop the gang in Claudio Noce’s
The Ice Forest (trailer here), which screens as
part of Open Roads: New Italian Cinema 2015.
the early 1990s prologue makes clear, the human trafficking ring operating out
of the high mountain power plant will ruthlessly kill to serve its interests. Another
body has just turned up in the present day. Unfortunately, the powers that be
are not especially concerned about a dead Libyan asylum seeker, so Lana, a Slovenia
detective, only has a matter of days to conduct her undercover investigation,
posing as a zoologist tracking bears. She is not the only stranger in town.
Pietro “the Grease Monkey” has been dispatched to fix the town’s frequently
of Pietro’s down time will be spent with the Brazil-obsessed Lorenzo, the
brother of the intense looking Secondo, who clearly runs the hardscrabble
community in an unofficial godfather kind of way. Lorenzo promises to take Lana
up to the power station, so she can snoop around closer to the source.
Unfortunately, he will not be able to keep their date, or any others, ever
is easy to forget Italy and Slovenia share a border, since we rarely think of
the former in a Balkan context. However, familiarity with the Balkan War and
the subsequent uneasy peace will help the audience better understand some of
the tragic events that unfold. The fact that some characters are Serbian and
some are Bosnian is probably not accidental.
course, any thriller fan will appreciate the grandly cinematic Kolovrat Range.
Frankly, Noce and co-screenwriters Francesca Manieri and Elisa Amoruso are not
exactly the cleverest suspense plotters to come down the mountain. Astute viewers
should be able to figure out the big reveal just by doing some quick math in
their heads. However, the understated nature of the film’s twists and turns is
somewhat distinctive. This is especially so of the big action centerpiece, in
which Lana’s cable car is stranded in the middle of nowhere, so she
matter-of-factly starts shimmying down an emergency cable, as you do.
actress Kseniya Rappoport, looking world weary and appropriately wary is about
as glamorous as Ice gets, which is
not very. Regardless, she is easy to buy into as a resourceful and principled
copper. Domenico Diele somewhat stands out as the only cast member not buried
under a rat’s nest of facial hair, but he creates some real heat with
Rappoport. Controversial Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica chews plenty of
scenery as Secondo while Adriano Giannini gives the film a taste of
eccentricity as the hard to pigeon-hole Lorenzo.
is a first class noir that looks great and sounds somewhat unnerving thanks
to Michele D’Attanasio’s strikingly severe cinematography and Ratchev & Carratello’s
western-influenced score. Arguably, it is only really Noce who needs to work on
his thriller mechanics. Notable for its immersive sense of place and keen
awareness of recent history, Ice Forest screens
this Thursday (6/4) and Sunday (6/7), at the Walter Reade, as part of this year’s
Labels: Emir Kusturica, Italian Cinema, Open Roads '15