Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

Eddie and Maria live in an isolated farmhouse in the Norwegian countryside. He's a middle-aged bear of a man with a shady past. She's young enough to be his daughter, attractive in a plain sort of way and - unbeknownst to Eddie - pregnant by him.

In town, Eddie runs into an old acquaintance, Kullman. An invitation to have a drink develops into an all-nighter at the farmhouse. Then Kullmann decides that he would like to collect on the favour Eddie owes him. Eddie, understandably reluctant to put his new found domestic happiness at risk, refuses, leading to a power struggle between the two men.

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Dragonflies is a slow-burner of a movie that smoulders, but fails to ignite.

Using handheld camera and naturalistic lighting, director Marius Holst's style might be summarised as Dogme-lite. When it works, it gives the film an appropriately edgy and uneasy feel. When it doesn't, it looks ugly and amateurish and you sense the limited one-take resources of the piece.

The idiosyncratic alt-country style soundtrack is a plus, the use of time-lapse photography to signify the passage of time a minus. As the Goldwynism goes, we need some new cliches.

Writer Nikolaj Frobenius leaves the viewer to fill the blanks in the story. You don't know whether to put the twists and turns down to Kullmann's scheming, or Eddie and Maria's increasing paranoia. Was that an accident, or accidentally on purpose? Does Kullmann really recognise Maria, or is he fishing for an edge? Is her denial genuine, or has she a skeleton in the closet?

If there's a weakness, it's the sketchiness of Eddie and Maria's relationship. We are asked to accept that they are together, no questions asked.

The film's saving grace is the acting. Kim Bodnia, Mikael Persbrandt and Maria Bonnevie deliver naturalistic, largely unmannered performances that give their characters a warts-and-all credulity.

Reviewed on: 22 Aug 2002
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Dragonflies packshot
Secrets from the past are prized open when an ex-con comes to see a couple in the country.
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Director: Marius Holst

Writer: Nikolaj Frobenius, Marius Holst, based on the book by Ingvar Ambjornsen

Starring: Kim Bodnia, Mikael Persbrandt, Maria Bonnevie, Thomas Skarpordet, Tintin Anderzon, Tord Peterson, Shanti Roney, Anastasios Soulis, Ulla-Britt Norman-Olsson, Willy Karlsson

Year: 2001

Runtime: 110 minutes

Country: Norway


EIFF 2002

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