Starring: Thórhallur Sverrisson, Jón Gnarr, Hafdís Huld
Director: Róbert I. Douglas
Running Time: 90 mins
The Icelandic Dream (Íslenski draumurinn) is an Icelandic film about a man struggling to make ends meet selling imported Bulgarian cigarettes, wrestling with a messy home life, and being constantly frustrated as his favourite football team keeps losing.
The disappointing thing about this film is that it starts off with real promise, a hot-headed main character and a whole lot of dark comedy – something that the Scandinavians in particular excel at – however the truth about The Icelandic Dream is that it really falls flat, failing to turn its darker humour into a point of genuine entertainment, all the while struggling with a rather frustrating and unlikable story that just doesn’t work how it’s intended.
Let’s start off on the bright side, with the fact that there are a couple of moments where this film gets its specific brand of humour spot on. Throughout, the story follows a hot-headed and rather childish man as he attempts to get his own way despite never really deserving as such, so you’re meant to watch the film and take a bit of glee in his regular failures and disappointments.
I can’t say that that works perfectly throughout, but there are a few very memorable moments where we see our main man put into a difficult situation and end up with nothing to show for his minimal effort, which sees the film’s dark humour work really well.
However, those moments are rather few and far between, and are unfortunately overshadowed by the fact that the main character is actually pretty unlikable, something that never lends itself well to a good comedy. For example, The Office (UK) television show is a perfect demonstration of how loving a character’s misfortune still requires you to like and understand the person a little bit, with David Brent’s endless selfishness and egoism coming from a genuine desire to succeed, thereby drawing you in and helping you to understand where he’s coming from, even though he’s not a character that really deserves to achieve his ambitions.
This film, however, sees the main character shout and complain his way through absolutely every situation, without any real portrayal of his background or deeper emotions, as such turning him into a fairly blank and dull personality throughout, and failing to capture your interest to the point where you can genuinely enjoy his various misfortunes.
Furthermore, having an unlikable character like that means that the story as a whole really isn’t that engrossing. Again, it starts off with premise, seeing a man down on his luck trying to get somewhere through a variety of questionable avenues, but the fact remains that there just isn’t enough character depth throughout to really grab you, and as such the film, along with its frustratingly slow pace, ends up a disappointing affair that never really manages to intrigue you, which is why I’m giving it a 6.5 overall.