Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

A dying mother asks to see the daughter she deserted years ago and a Norwegian oil worker who may or may not be the girl's father. Her daughter is called Kaisa. She wears business suits and plays office politics better than the fellas. She's tough and smart and won't let anyone close.

His name is Tomas and he's an alcoholic. He brought Kaisa up in a haphazard fashion when he wasn't on the rigs. What life has taught her is that you can't trust men, other people's commitment or God. Also, sex is safer with strangers.

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Hans Petter Moland's film is intelligent, well-written and beautifully acted. You feel there should be more to this than Leaving Las Vegas, but doubt it at the time. Stellan Skarsgard is a sensational drunk. He has captured the self-pity, the arrogance ("I'm outdated. It is unfashionable to have a mind of your own") and the humiliation perfectly. And yet, unlike Mike Figgis's award winner, it is the journey, not the arrival, that matters.

A lorry driver, called Clive (Ian Hart), helps them out when their car has a puncture on the motorway and never really leaves. Most lorry drivers have a job to go to and are laid off if they don't turn up. Not Clive. He becomes an unofficial guardian angel, full of common sensical views on life, as well as practical tips, that make the others look even more dysfunctional.

Lena Headey has travelled far in the foothills of low-budget British cinema, usually holding together weak scripts. Here, as Kaisa, she lays claim to something far greater and matches Skarsgard's searing performance with energy and courage.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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A woman is forced to confront her past and present on a trip to see her dying mum.
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Director: Hans Petter Moland

Writer: Hans Petter Moland, Kristin Amundsen

Starring: Stellan Skarsgard, Lena Headey, Ian Hart, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Hethrington, Louise Goodall

Year: 2000

Runtime: 105 minutes

Country: UK Norway


EIFF 2000

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Leaving Las Vegas