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.