Review: ‘White Night Wedding’

Sour Icelandic comedy "White Night Wedding" provides few laughs and less rooting value.

Sour Icelandic comedy “White Night Wedding” provides few laughs and less rooting value as a middle-aged academic and his much younger fiancee count down the hours to a ceremony they’re right to have second thoughts about. Flashbacks to the groom’s prior union with an unstable artist only add more discord, if little depth, to a movie that aims for cranky humor but comes off as cynically unappealing instead. Though a home-turf hit, this lesser effort for Baltasar Kormakur (“101 Reykjavik,” “The Sea”) will find spotty exposure abroad.

Primary thread in a story inspired by Chekhov’s “Ivanov” charts 24 hours leading to planned nuptials between widower Jon (Hilmir Snaer Gudnason) and former student Thora (Laufey Eliasdottir) on north-coast island Flatey. Nearly everyone — particularly her money-obsessed mother (Olafia Hronn Jonsdottir) and the local reverend (co-scenarist Olafur Egill Egilsson) — thinks the marriage is a bad idea, as do the intendeds themselves. Thora wants to rescue Jon, but he fears he’s using her to escape the lingering bad vibes of a manic-depressive late wife (Margret Vilhjalmsdottir). Despite various drunken wedding-party antics and histrionics, levity, poignancy and insight all fall short. Presentation is polished.

White Night Wedding

Iceland

Production

A Blueeyes production. Produced by Agnes Johansen, Baltasar Kormakur. Executive producers, Lilja Palmadottir, Kim Magnuson. Directed by Baltasar Kormakur. Screenplay, Kormakur, Olafur Egill Egilsson.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Bergsteinn Bjorgulfsson; editor, Elisabet Ronaldsdottir; music, Sigurdur Bjola Gardarsson; production designers, Atli Geir Gretarsson, Gretar Reytnisson. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 11, 2008. . Running time: 97 MIN.

With

Hilmir Snaer Gudnason, Margret Vilhjalmsdottir, Laufey Eliasdottir, Throstur Leo Gunnarsson, Johann Sigurdarson, Olafia Hronn Jonsdottir, Olafur Darri Olafsson, Ilmur Kristjansdottir, Olafur Egill Egilsson.

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