Review: ‘Misery Harbor’

Co-producer, Ken Pittman, Goran Lillieborg, Ulrik Bolt Jergensen.

Co-producer, Ken Pittman, Goran Lillieborg, Ulrik Bolt Jergensen.

Directed by Nils Gaup. Screenplay, Kenny Sanders, Sigve Endresen, adapted from works by Aksel Sandemose. Camera (color), Erling Thurmann-Andersen; editor, Barrie Vince; music, Joachim Holbek; production designer, Karl Juliusson. Reviewed at World Film Festival, Montreal (competing), Aug. 31, 1999. (English, Norwegian and Danish dialogue.) Running time: 100 MIN.

With: Nikolaj Coster Waldau, Stuart Graham, Anneke von der Lippe, Graham Greene, Hywel Bennett, Bjorn Floberg, Margot Finley, Stig Hoffmeyer, Lars Goran Persson, Mats Helin.

Shot in Newfoundland and Scandinavia, “Misery Harbor” consolidates stories from Scandi author Aksel Sandemose’s loosely autobiographical early works. Competent but uninspired saga is not so far in tone from the juvenile outdoor adventure of helmer Nils Gaup’s well-traveled debut, “The Pathfinder” (1987). Beyond modest theatrical prospects on home territories, this is best suited for global tube play.

Trying to win over the elegant Jenny (Anneke von der Lippe) from a supercilious literary-critic rival in 1932 Oslo, moody young writer Espen (Nikolaj Coster Waldau) shows her his first full-length manuscript — the tale of his own tumultuous youth, fleeing a bleak Danish factory town in the 1910s on a British schooner. There he meets the untrustworthy Wakefield (Stuart Graham), who for no evident reason seems determined to dog the junior shipmate’s every step. Going AWOL in Newfoundland, Espen falls for pretty Eva (Margot Finley), but Wakefield turns up to spoil that, too, further trailing Espen to a lumber camp for their climactic confrontation. Ably mounted and cast, feature (first completed under a Canadian-Norwegian co-production deal) aims for a brooding atmosphere that’s undercut by script’s routine dialogue and structure. Tech aspects are solid.

Misery Harbor



An Alliance Viva presentation of a Motlys production in association with Red Orchre Prods., Triangle Arts and Angel Arena. Produced by Sigve Endresen.
Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety