Northwest

***

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"A well-shot and occasionally sweaty run around the same old block."

We've met these kids before, perhaps in a different country, but always in the same place - on the fringes of society, their vulnerability cloaked in violence, the only way out of their situation offering a way in to full-time criminality.

Caspar (Gustav Dyekjær Giese) is 18 and the man of his broken home, with his single mum working every hour God sends, he is also the chief role model for his slightly younger brother Andy (played by his real-life brother Oscar Dyekjær Giese) and little sister Freya (Annemieke Bredahl Peppink). They live in the Copenhagen suburbs, which like many of the British boroughs that this sort of film often crops up in, hold dangers that lie more with the crowd you run with than the environment itself.

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Caspar is in with the local Asian gang, in so far as they local thug Jamal (Dulfi Al-Jaburi) is happy to take stolen goods from him and a rock-bottom rate. Needless to say when a hood from a different clan (Roland Moller) offers him the chance to rip-off something a bit more expensive and for more cash, he sees it as a chance to climb the greasy pole. As a turf war brews, Caspar finds, like so many before him, he is little more than a pawn in a much bigger game.

While Caspar's workmanlike approach to crime as a method of provision for his family is an interesting angle, director Michael Noer and co-writer Rasmus Heisterberg spend so much time in his head-space that the others don't get much of a look in. The tension between his style of criminality and the more devil-may-care attitude of his brother is ripe for exploration but with the emphasis so heavily on Caspar's experiences, it doesn't simmer quite as it should. There is also scope for more consideration of the family background that pushes Caspar into this particular life but, as with so many films in the genre, all of the female characters are weak and lack scope for development.

The Giese brothers are both non-professional actors and come with the rawness that provides - although casting of this sort is not particularly unusual in this type of film, so it like the plot, even this feels familiar. And it is that familiarity which is ultimately the film's undoing, with no left-field twists or fresh insights into the motivations of troubled teens, Noer leaves us little more than with a well-shot and occasionally sweaty run around the same old block.

Reviewed on: 23 Jul 2014
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A teenager gets sucked into a turf war.
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