Two highway maintenance men in the barren wilderness of 1980s Iceland find themselves at a figurative crossroads in the small but beguiling character-driven dramedy "Either Way."

Two highway maintenance men in the barren wilderness of 1980s Iceland find themselves at a figurative crossroads in the small but beguiling character-driven dramedy “Either Way.” Wisely employing the harshly beautiful landscape as the third principal character, tyro helmer Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson highlights human vulnerability and the struggle to create something meaningful and lasting. Boasting gorgeous visuals that belie its low budget, genial pic is accumulating mileage on the fest circuit, and marks Sigurdsson as a talent to watch.

Repping two different types of manhood, Finnbogi (co-writer Svein Olafur Gunnarsson) and callow, hot-to-trot Alfred (Hilmar Gudjonsson) gall each other as they perform their hard labor far from other human contact. Ultimately, their barely civil tolerance evolves into real friendship as they support each other through romantic travails, but not before a drunken comic interlude that makes the slender material feel padded. Smooth Red One lensing by Arni Filippusson favors long takes, wide frames and moving shots that allow the thesping to carry the story. The Icelandic title translates as “Another Way,” playing with the fact that matters turn out differently than expected and functioning as an older synonym for “road.”

Either Way

Iceland

Production

A Mystery Island, Flickbook Films production with support from the Icelandic Film Center. Produced by Arni Filippusson, David Oskar Olafsson, Hreinn Beck, Tobias Munthe, Theo Youngstein, Sindri Pall Kjartansson. Directed by Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson. Screenplay, Sigurdsson, Svein Olafur Gunnarsson.

Crew

Camera (color, DV, widescreen), Arni Filippusson; editor, Kristjan Lodmfjord; production designer, Halfdan Pedersen; costume designer, Margret Eindarsdottir. Reviewed on DVD, Chicago, October 23, 2012. (In San Sebastian, Reykjavik, Thessaloniki, Turin film festivals.) Running time: 81 MIN.

With

Hilmar Gudjonsson, Svein Olafur Gunnarsson, Thorsteinn Bachmann. (Icelandic, German dialogue)

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