There’s a lot of noise coming out of Scandinavia in terms of film production, and its not only the trolls.
Based on Jo Nesbø’s novel of the same name, Norwegian director Morten Tyldum’s Headhunters is another addition to a growing list of successful Scandinavian thrillers that carry a lot of acclaim on their own shores, across Europe and most notably overseas.
On the surface Tyldum’s adaptation is another simple cat-and-mouse thriller typified by its genre, but Headhunters is in fact quintessentially European in its approach. It’s slow, dark and brooding, with an intelligent narrative, great character depth, astute performances and a stylistic craft.
From the narrative to the visuals, there’s a great attention to detail in the construction. The beautiful Norwegian landscapes offer themselves to film, but the auxiliary scenes share the same artistic quality. John Andreas Andersen offers a varying range of photography techniques, but most significantly is when he suspends the camera in one location, forcing the audience to intently observe the subtleties of a scene.
The intense set pieces are treated in a Newtonian manner – the focus isn’t the action, but the resulting reactions they have on the characters. This gutsy theme and a courageous mentality to never shy away from disturbing sequences makes every moment of this film entirely memorable.
Headhunters is a pleasing diversion from the stream of lacklustre thrillers being dispensed by Hollywood. Even if you’re perturbed by foreign-language films, I urge you to seek this out, instead of waiting for the inevitable US remake.