Starring: Masatoshi Nagase, Lili Taylor, Fisher Stevens
Director: Friðrik Þór Friðriksson
Running Time: 86 mins
Cold Fever (Á köldum klaka) is an Icelandic film about a Japanese man who is made to travel to Iceland and drive across the country to the remote location where his parents died to carry out a family ritual.
For a hilarious clash of cultures from all over the world, Cold Fever is a fantastic film. With a brilliant sense of humour that makes a relatively slow and quiet film an absolute riot to watch, an excellent lead performance from Masatoshi Nagase, and a consistently entertaining and even often touching story from start to finish.
But first off, we have to talk about the comedy. Like a few of the Icelandic films I’ve seen before, this film is full of brilliant self-deprecating humour about Iceland. Seen through the eyes of a very rigid Japanese businessman, everything about the country seems completely inhospitable, irritating, inconvenient or just plain weird.
However, it’s the fact that that stereotype is pushed so far into this movie that makes it so funny. No matter how polite our lead character is in coping with everything Iceland throws at him, nothing seems to go right, making for a hilarious road trip as he tries his best to survive the harsh weather conditions and endless mishaps that make it an extremely arduous ride to his destination.
Cold Fever doesn’t just make fun of Iceland, however, it’s full of hilarious humour surrounding the lead character, including the clash with his more rigid lifestyle as a Tokyo businessman and the seemingly dreamlike world of Iceland, as well as a couple of other characters from the USA that add to the fun, infuriating the Japanese man beyond belief and living up to some hilarious stereotypes along the way.
Along with the excellent comedy, the lead performance from Masatoshi Nagase plays a huge role in making Cold Fever such an entertaining watch. His character is pushed around right from the start in giving up a trip to Hawaii to go to Iceland of all places, and Nagase is the spitting image of a tired, annoyed and bored man when he lands in Reykjavik.
From then on, his deadpan and frustrated performance makes for some fantastic laughs throughout, and fits perfectly with director Friðrik Þór Friðriksson’s fantastic sense of humour. However, there are moments where we move away from that brand of comedy, and the lead character develops significantly come the final act of the movie, giving Nagase the opportunity to bring a good level of drama and emotion to proceedings as well.
Finally, the story here is great. Apart from being a brilliant vehicle for the ultimate culture clash and hilarious humour throughout, it’s actually a pretty interesting watch. Not only is the Icelandic scenery stunning to look at, but the journey that we follow our main character through, being battered by everything that can possibly happen, and still see him press home to carry out a family ritual, is actually very touching, and makes this something more special than a simple road-trip comedy movie.
Overall, I really liked Cold Fever. Above all, its sense of humour is brilliant from start to finish, and the combination of pure deadpan comedy and satirising national stereotypes had me laughing on a consistent basis. The lead performance from Masatoshi Nagase is equally hilarious, but with a decent level of emotion that plays into a surprisingly interesting story, there’s more to this film than just comedy, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.9.