Review: ‘The Higher Force’

As with other recent Icelandic films (such as Baltasar Kormakur's "White Night Wedding"), whimsy overwhelms good comedic sense in rising helmer Olaf de Fleur's second feature, "The Higher Force."

As with other recent Icelandic films (such as Baltasar Kormakur’s “White Night Wedding”), whimsy overwhelms good comedic sense in rising helmer Olaf de Fleur’s second feature, “The Higher Force.” In a film that will be best remembered as the first time a “Sopranos” ensemble member — exec producer and actor Michael Imperioli — participated in an Icelandic production, a bumbling debt enforcer tries to hoodwink his bosses in a harebrained scheme that’s never that funny or engaging. Fest slots after AFI and Rotterdam will be few and far between.

David (Petur Johann Sigfusson) endures childhood memories of his brother’s tragic death and moonlights as a poet and kung fu fan. In reality, he’s a useless underling in what’s surely Iceland’s only criminal ring. When his delusional landlord, Harald (Eggert Thorleifsson), poses as a crime lord, David informs his gang, using it as leverage to get ahead. That David manages to even fool top boss Alexander (Imperioli, aptly cast in a near-cameo) is an impossible conceit for the film to sustain. Top Icelandic stars Ingvar E. Sigurdsson and Hilmer Snaer Gudnason show up in third-banana roles.

The Higher Force

Iceland

Production

A Poppoli Pictures release of a Poppoli Pictures, Icelandic Film Center presentation, in association with Samfilm, Kukl. (International sales: Visit Films, New York.) Produced by Helgi Sverrisson, Olaf de Fleur. Executive producers, Michael Imperioli, Fridrik Thor Fridriksson. Co-producers, Arni Samuelsson, Thorvadur Bjorgulfsson, Stefan Schaefer. Directed by Olaf de Fleur. Screenplay, De Fleur, Stefan Schaefer, Thorvaldur Thorsteinsson, partly based the novel "A Gentleman's Tale" by Thorsteinsson.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Rune Kippervik; editors, Gudni Pall Saemundsson, de Fleur; music, Pavel E. Smid; production designer, Linda Stefansdottir; costume designer, Myrra Leifsdottir. Reviewed on DVD, Los Angeles, Oct. 31, 2008. (In AFI Los Angeles Film Festival -- competing; Rotterdam Film Festival.) Icelandic, English, Mandarin dialogue. Running time: 85 MIN.

With

Petur Johann Sigfusson, Eggert Thorleifsson, Ingvar E. Sigurdsson, Benedikt Erlingsson, Stefan Schaefer, Harpa Arnardottir, Ilmur Kristjansdottir, Zlatko Krickic, Lu Yu, Michael Imperioli, Hilmer Snaer Gudnason.
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