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: Nordic Noir: The Hunters (1996)  ( 182 )
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« : October 20, 2017, 06:10:53 PM »

Watched on DVD 9

* This review may contain spoilers ***

After seeing the Nordic Noir False Trail a few weeks ago,I made a note to pick up the first of the two films (made 15 years earlier!)in the series. Finding the adaptation of Jo Nesbo's very good book The Snowman to be getting terrible reviews, (with the director admitting that production was rushed,and saying that 15% of the script that was needed to be shot was left un-filmed) I decided it was time to go on a hunting trip.

The plot:

Returning to the small town of Norrbotten after being a cop in Stockholm for 20 years due to the recent death of his dad, Erik Bäckström joins the local police force. Joining his brother Leif,Erik Finds the village to appear to be crime free,where all the people know each other,and know each other secrets, Bäckström decides to investigate a case of reindeer poaching. Learning that the poaching has been going on for years, Bäckström tries to find out why no one has been arrested,but is told by his fellow officers not to hurt local honour. Seeing his brother Leif wide smirk when standing with a group of local thugs, Bäckström decides to hunt down the secrets of the town.

View on the film:

Going down a similar country lane as the one in Lucio Fulci's superb 1972 Giallo Don't Torture a Duckling for this very early Nordic Noir, the screenplay by co-writer/(with Björn Carlström)director Kjell Sundvall dig up the superstition and Noir distrust just below the peaceful village image. Arriving as an outsider,the writers give the dialogue thrown at Erik Bäckström a brittle crunch,where one sly hand-shake can cause secrets in the town to be lost forever. Giving an excellent twist to the genres major theme of the elite being corrupt, the writers keep the mystery of the poachers tightly linked to the dour arrival of Erik into town,which exposes the police force working with the corrupt locals,which causes any trust Erik gives to his fellow officers to leak out.

Impressively starting visual themes which would be expanded on 15 years later,director Kjell Sundvall & cinematographer Kjell Lagerroos keep track on the activates in the town with sweeping crane shots over the beautiful countryside,that close in on the sniper-fire of deceit. Peeling away at the calm appearance, Sundvall paints Erik's bitter Noir frustrations in a deep black canvas,where outbursts of violence hit the screen with a blunt force.

Hanging around each other like a pack of hyenas,all of the guys playing the local thugs give outstanding performances,with Jarmo Mäkinen making gang leader Tomme Harela a psychopathic ticking time bomb, and Lennart Jähkel seeds moments of doubt into Leif,which are unable to overcome the allure of the darkness. Currently looking like he will return for an upcoming TV mini-series in the role, Rolf Lassgård gives a magnificent performance as loner Rolf Lassgård,whose failure to catch any glimpse of happiness is drawn with a superb heaviness on his shoulders by Lassgård,as Erik Bäckström joins the hunting season.

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