101 Reykjavik (2000)

 Icelandic tale of layabout’s woes

In the amusing film, 101 Reykjavik Hlynur is a 30-ish male still living at home with his single mum. Hlynur is happily unemployed and would much rather not think about getting a job. He spends his evenings down at the local pub, parties a great deal with his strange friends, and basically slides away from any sort of commitment. Hlynur also has some sexual problems–but this does not discourage a rather determined girl who pursues him in spite of his low interest.

101Hlynur obviously has some serious problems. His life is an existence–a substitution for the real thing. He even expresses a desire to watch fireworks from the television set rather than from his own balcony. Hlynur’s life begins to change when his mum brings home Lola (a Spanish Flamenco teacher) for the Christmas holidays. When Hlynur’s mum leaves, Lola and Hlynur are thrown together, and after a night of heavy drinking, well….one thing leads to another. Unfortunately, Lola is a lesbian–and she’s Hlynur’s mother’s lover. This creates an odd love triangle and a moral dilemma for Hlynur.

The film was really at its rather original best with the character of Hlynur. He is simultaneously interesting, infuriating, and amusing. Some of the scenes at the parties, the annual family Christmas reunion, and in the pub were very witty–and the narration from Hlynur as he describes the flesh market community in the pub is nothing less than brilliant. The originality and sharp wit of these scenes really made me want to read the book the film is based on. Also the cinematography was marvellous–the stark beauty of Iceland was conveyed in its harsh climate and unforgiving landscape. I haven’t seen many films set in Iceland, and just the photography alone made the film worth watching. The climate is part of the culture–the implication is inescapable.

Victoria Abril is one of my favourite actresses, but this was not her best role. In many ways she was simply a caricature of the passionate, free-spirited lesbian, and the character of Lola was rather flat. This was a bit problematic as Lola is the catalyst for change in this film. However, 101 Reykjavik is quite entertaining and a pleasant discovery. Directed by Baltasar Kormakur.

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Filed under Iceland, Victoria Abril

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