Noi Albinoi

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Movie Review by Neil Ryan

Starring: Tómas Lemarquis, Throstur Leo Gunnarsson, Elin Hansdóttir, Anna Fridriksdóttir

Director: Dagur Kari

NOI ALBINOI is another one of those funny little foreign films. You know the ones: nothing much happens and not much is said, and when any activity does occur it is ponderous and quickly curtailed. There is usually one central character in such films who, despite the funereal pace of their existence, undergoes a transformation of sorts by the film’s conclusion. This particular funny little foreign film is Icelandic – which is nice.

Noi (who, incidentally, is the spitting image of Italian football’s super-ref Pierluigi Colina – which is also nice) is a seventeen year-old misfit living in a remote Icelandic village where the landscape is dominated by snow, ice, and water. As a picture postcard it is beautiful; as a residential location for a teenager with time on his hands it is a desperate place. Noi regularly truants from school and his subsequent attempts to while away his leisure time – if measured on a scale of heightened excitement – occasionally peaks at ‘mildly diverting’. Ferris Bueller he ain’t. Nor Igby for that matter. Not even Donnie Darko. However, he does share an unsated inquisitive nature and off-kilter view of life with his American cinematic counterparts.

For the majority of the film Noi focuses his efforts on attempting to woo the girl working at the local gas station. Together they daydream about running away to a brighter, bigger, more interesting place. Only, for Noi, this is more than a mere escapist fantasy and he determines to take drastic steps to realise the dream. But despite his efforts the film seems to suggest that ultimately fate will supersede the actions of any one person and providence will exercise the greatest influence in determining the wish-fulfilment of the individual.

As with so many films of its ilk NOI ALBINOI takes universal themes (escapism, thwarted desire) and compresses them into a microcosm of human endeavour that manages to seep through the longueurs and barely existent plot. It is testimony to the enduring appeal of these themes that despite the paucity of incident and the underemployed supporting characters, the viewer warms to the plight of Noi – the funny little foreigner with his quietly winning ways.

3 out of 6 stars