Artnewsoress : A widower is torn between love and grief in Hlynur Pálmason’s powerful existential drama
In rural Iceland, a boulder tumbles down a hillside and over a cliff, sinking slowly to the bottom of the ocean. The camera spends an eerie 60 seconds following the rock’s voyage. Several other poetic digressions punctuate this visually arresting thriller from Icelandic writer-director Hlynur Pálmason (Winter Brothers) about a widowed former police officer, adding to its haunted atmosphere.
The film opens with an anonymous proverb that suggests the permeability of fog allows the dead to communicate with the living. Ingvar Sigurðsson gives a tightly controlled performance as Ingimundur, a proud man wading through and occasionally blinded by the fog of grief. Scenes that pair him with eight-year-old granddaughter Salka (Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir, a near-perfect foil), such as the over-enthusiastic telling of a grisly bedtime story, draw out the twin forces of anger and love roiling beneath his hard exterior. The momentum really builds in the third act, but the film’s quieter moments of contemplation are its most striking.