Small Mountain

Mordant slice of Icelandic character comedy marbled with warm, inclusive moments.

A dead lamb, a ballot box, a possibly mental son and his definitely hopeless dad converge on a barren berg in “Small Mountain,” a typically mordant slice of Icelandic character comedy marbled with warm, inclusive moments. Sophomore outing by writer-director Einar Thor Gunnlaugsson (“The Third Name”) mines his island’s rich sense of the ridiculous to milder effect than some of its forebears, but has a quietly kooky charm that will sit well in fest sidebars and on Euro cable.

Middle-aged Emil (Johann Sigurdarson) is a nice, helpful guy who offers to drive a ballot box from a remote polling station to an airstrip. Chores en route result in him missing the rendezvous, so he’s charged with driving the box over a small mountain himself, whereupon he accidentally knocks down a lamb and crashes his car. Unfortunately, the rescue mission includes his two sons, loopy Stebbi (Olafur S.K. Thorvalds) and seriously weird Albert (Gisli Petur Hinriksson), who hasn’t spoken to his dad in years and holds a serious grudge against him for perceived past injustices. Ace lensing of the ruggedly beautiful summertime landscape tops the pro tech package.

Small Mountain


  • Production: A Passport Pictures production, in association with Danny Chang Music & Media, Pegasus Pictures. (International sales: Icelandic Film Center, Reykjavik.) Produced by Einar Thor Gunnlaugsson, Danny Chang. Directed, written by Einar Thor Gunnlaugsson.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Sigurdur Sverrir Palsson; editor, Gunnlaugsson, Sigurbjorg Jonsdottir; music, Danny Chang; art director, Olafur Jonasson; costume designer, Maria Valles. Reviewed on DVD, Berlin, July 2, 2009. (In Shanghai Film Festival -- Panorama.) Original title: Heidin. Running time: 96 MIN.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Johann Sigurdarson, Gisli Petur Hinriksson, Olafur S.K. Thorvalds, Isgerdur Elfa Gunnarsdottir, Gunnar Eyjolfsson, Solveig Arnarsdottir, Jon Sigurbjornsson, Gudrun Gisladottir.