The Sea (review)

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Twentysomething Ágúst (Hilmir Snaer Gudnason) escaped the remote Icelandic village of his birth — he now lives in Paris, writes songs, and woos Frenchwomen — but it seems he can’t escape the legacy of his father, Thódur Haraldsson (Gunnar Eyjolfsson), the local fishing magnate. Thódur has called his far-flung children home to discuss the future of the family business, under attack from globalization and the idiosyncrasies of the country’s industrial policies, and writer/director Baltasar Kormákur, working from a play by Olafur Haukur Símonarson, masterfully transforms the family drama that ensues into an astute microcosm of the economic and social challenges facing the entire world. Downright Shakespearean in its intimate sweep, with ungrateful children clashing with cold, distant parents and plenty of secrets and lies to go around, this quietly electrifying film transcends nationality and language, whether you approach it as a soap opera of one deliciously dysfunctional family or as a perceptive and intelligent civic commentary. Working with a palette of rugged, unforgiving arctic vistas and warm, canny performances from an engaging and energetic cast, Kormákur shows himself off as a masterful young filmmaker.

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