Iceland (2009) Dir. Ragnar Bragason
Georg Bjarnfreðarson (Jón Gnarr) is serving a ten year prison sentence for involuntary manslaughter but his application for parole has been granted after give years and he is released. With no reply from his mother Bjarnfreður (Margrét Helga Jóhannsdóttir), Georg contacts his former co-worker Daníel Sævarsson (Jörundur Ragnarsson) – now married to former kiosk girl Ylfa (Sara Margrét Mikaelsdóttir) with two young sons – to pick him up.
When they arrive at his family home Bjarnfreður refuses to acknowledge her son so Daníel invites Georg to stay with them, much to the chagrin not just of Yifa but of the other former work colleague of Georg’s, cash strapped Ólafur Ragnar Hannesson (Pétur Jóhann Sigfússon) who is also staying at Daníel’s.
This feature length outing revolving around the antics of the terrifying comic creation Georg Bjarnfreðarson and his beleaguered co-workers is the big screen spin-off from the trio of successful TV shows which began with Night Shift then Day Shift and finally Prison Shift. Upon its release in Iceland in 2009 it actually out grossed Avatar as well as scooping a number of local awards.
While it is open enough to stand on its own it does rely on of the past exploits of the cast, picking up after the end of the final series Prison Shift. Having only seen Night Shift I did feel I was missing something but at least I knew the characters and their quirks so it was not impossible to get into.
Initially the film follows the cynical humour of the TV shows but soon becomes a more serious and darker tale exploring the childhood past of Georg at the mercy of his feminist mother and how her imposing her myopic political beliefs onto the poor lad shaped him into the strict monster he became as a adult.
But while Georg’s life descends into a personal calamity, Ólafur lucks into a gig as a radio DJ while Daníel is trying to hide the fact he is studying art and not medicine as his family think he is. It is undeniably shorter on laughs than the TV shows but the trials of the characters are more than captivating enough to keep the viewer entertained, especially as the impossible happens and the seemingly inhuman Georg actually becomes a sympathetic character.
A darkly enjoyable and satisfying conclusion for the franchise for established fans, a bewildering curiosity for anyone else.