Friday, 14 September 2012

filmbore pick of the week - Headhunters

Director: Morten Tyldum
Screenplay: Lars Gudmestad, Ulf Ryberg
Starring: Askel Hennie, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Synnøve Macody Lund
Year: 2012
Languages: Norwegian
UK rental release date: August 2012

Rotten Tomatoes

Reputation, height and beautiful art - not the first three milestones you may choose for a thrilling story, but in the case of Jo Nesbø's Headhunters it works a treat!

Through voice-over narration we are introduced to Roger Brown, an enigmatic, lovable rogue who is an expert at playing the game. Through his understanding of corporate culture and his ability to conjure the correct perception of an individual, Roger (Askel Hennie, Max Manus: Man Of War, Uno) seeks out new employees for senior positions. Yet, this is a ploy, as a shadow over his true venture of "acquiring" the target's fine-art collections. He expertly plays short cons in the long-game style to get what he needs. of this is in aid to continue his charade of wealth, partly to impress his ex-model wife Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund) who runs an art gallery. While visiting her latest exhibit he is brought to the attention of Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Jamie Lannister of TV series, Game Of Thrones), ex-CEO of a major company and perfect fodder for a headhunt. Clas intrigues Roger, and through digging that little bit further is presented with an opportunity of the ultimate prize - a family heirloom of a rare Rubens painting potentially worth 100 million dollars.
With his new MacGuffin secured, our lead sets his sights on obtaining the piece. A small falter in his flawless method and the discovery of a phone's location sets off Roger's more commonly contained emotions. He takes his eye off the ball which leads him into a realm of mind games and deceit, forcing quick thinking and unwanted slapdash behaviour. His whole world implodes on itself as he plays victim to an ensuing manhunt; an exciting, thrilling and tense ride of desperate moments to both flea and protect his exquisite loot.

Norway has produced some strong movies over the years, and Headhunters sits at the top of the nation's impressive roster. It enters with a care-free vibe, bringing us close to the head hunter's world. As expected from our European cousins, this is yet another sturdy Nordic production, most notably for it's solid camera work and great use of lighting. There's a fine, light sheen across most of the movie giving a fresh feel, even trusting natural illumination in some scenes for that genuine effect. Also, it's a strong adaption, settling comfortably into the story and using it's strength to expose the emotive characters in the plot.

These are some confident individuals too. Both our lead and supporting men ooze cool, and even though Coster-Waldau has an undoubtedly hefty screen presence, it doesn't overpower the slickness of Hennie's performance. He is an ethereally charismatic leading man, and carries the weight and duty of the film with grace and aplomb. There is some real depth to the role too, through a complex that he is not enough man for the woman he loves. His lack in physical stature impedes his vision of the true world around him, so she strives to live in his sideline career as a beeline into securing what he believes he doesn't deserve. These nuances are only touched on briefly at the start of the picture, yet Hennie is capable of manifesting the motives and presence driven by these thoughts all the way through the movie. It's a calm performance in that respect, and paints the film in an interesting hue. do have to return to our supporting characters though. Even though Headhunters is a perspective from one individual, every other character fits snugly into its jigsaw. Coster-Waldau as Clas Greve is a great casting decision. Game Of Thrones has propelled him to loftier heights of recognition, helping with promotion but he is the perfect choice for the part. He weaves class through his scenes, no matter how subtle but still leaving morsels of intrigue in his wake. What are his motives? Is he a con-man too? Why did he leave such a lucrative job? He handles the part of Greve with refined precision. It's also worth mentioning Synnøve Macody Lund as Roger's wife, Diana. This is her first acting role as far as I know, and a complicated one to play as the tale uncoils. She is natural and believable, and expresses such minute mannerisms to help in building more mystery and inquisitiveness. The role could have easily gone to a number of actresses but I'm glad that she had a shot at this, as she is a stand out performer in my view, and could have a strong career ahead of her.

Overall, this is a smart and delicately portrayed tale. It's evolves into a rip-roaring ride through deception, confusion and pretty cool GPS transmitters. You'll be gripped from start to finish, bowled over by the revelations throughout and busting-a-gut to see the outcome, as Roger Brown is forced to act in a realm he no longer comprehends. takes years, even a lifetime, to establish and only seconds to destroy. it... but can it be rebuilt?

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