Jar City - DVD Review

'every character has got something bringing them down (loss of faith, drug-addled daughter, bad at job, lost daughter) resulting in a film that isn’t destined to leave you sitting in your seat grinning in ecstasy'

Jar City’s plot, focussing on a small-town Icelandic murder mystery and the link it may or may not have to what appears to be a local genetic problem, is side-skirted by the relationship main character Erlunder has with his daughter. I mention this now because even though it is a sub-plot with a tenuous link back to the main story Baltasar Kormakur gives it so much attention that at times it feels like it is the main concern of the story.

Of course if I’d rented Jar City expecting a family drama or if the director could link this area of the plot to the main story with more than a passing reference to the fact that the themes may be common or interlinked then it might feel more like a inter-linked movie than a two part story mashed together.

When the story does get the attention it deserves it is again divided into two as Erlunder is followed in his murder investigation by Orn, looking into the reasons behind the death of his young daughter (hmm… I smell a connection!).

Both are captivating enough on their own but put together it somehow dilutes the magnitude of both plots and rather feels like you’re watching the same thing twice which is actually almost entirely the case.

Iceland is obviously a beautiful, if haunting, place and the cinematography shows it off in a well-executed, sweeping fashion. But it can’t get away from the fact that bluey-grey, icy vistas are inherently a bit depressing. Throw into this the fact that every character has got something bringing them down (loss of faith, drug-addled daughter, bad at job, lost daughter) and an achingly slow place and you get a film that isn’t destined to leave you sitting in your seat grinning in ecstasy.

In the end then a good effort which, cliché of clichés, isn’t quite the sum of its parts and occasionally wanders dangerously close to stepping of its self-set path into a glacier of wallowing self-pity.



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