A funny and tragic film about fishermen and lost fortunes on a Danish island, “Gone With the Fish” is made in the same spirit as Brit films such as “Brassed Off” and “The Full Monty.” Pic’s qualities and desperate humor have made it a box office hit on home turf, and it looks to be a warm seller offshore, especially to webs. Remake rights are also viable.
Action takes place in 1981. For years, the fishermen on Bornholm have made a fortune from their profession, but now, as the government decides on fishing quotas, the golden days look like they are over.
First to go are luxury items, like lavish stereo equipment. Then the fishermen’s houses. Then, their marriages. Previously prosperous men have to stand in line to apply for jobs they’ve always despised.
Pic centers on one couple, Lars Erik (Henrik Lykkegaard) and Sonja (Sofie Stougaard). Lars Erik has his own boat and three employees who are forced to leave, one by one. In the meantime, Sonja has started working for their new neighbor, a man who makes small ceramic churches for tourists. Because she doesn’t dare tell her husband about the job, he assumes she is having an affair with the guy.
The real-life dance music group Vikingarna, extremely popular in both Denmark and Sweden, plays an important part in the movie, causing a stampede for tickets when it announces it is going to give a concert. When the group finally arrives, the local media and the middle-aged fans react like it’s the second coming of the Beatles, and the story reaches its dramatic conclusion during the concert, which is suddenly interrupted by a violent storm.
Final half-hour is too melodramatic, but overall pic is solidly directed. Director/co-writer Lotte Svendsen grew up on Bornholm and has based part of the story on real events and people she knew. It’s a funny, dramatic and moving pic, about people forced to re-evaluate their lives when their dreams suddenly evaporate just prior to coming true.
Svendsen moves easily between humorous sequences (bordering on farce) and more tragic moments, never losing her sense of balance. Acting is very good overall, and pic efficiently captures the mood of the time in a small fishing village. Peter Aalbaeck Jensen, Lars von Trier’s business partner, cameos as a man urinating from a helicopter.