Headhunters (Hodejegerne) (review)

MaryAnn’s quick take: Crazy-funny, a hilarious satire on male inadequacy disguised as an outrageously violent crime thriller. Not at all for the squeamish, and just so wrong that it ends up just so right.
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Tee-hee! Headhunters is a hilarious satire on male inadequacy disguised as an outrageously violent crime thriller. It’s all the dick-measuring and overcompensating elevated out of the subtext to actively fuel the humor and the suspense… and it’s about time someone did that.

Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) is a successful corporate recruiter in Oslo, but his terror at the merely imagined prospect of losing his gorgeous and ambitious wife, Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund), has “forced” him to overspend and overinvest — as in the art gallery she’s just opened — in order to keep her in the lavish lifestyle to which he has accustomed her. He subsidizes his own self-induced psychological terror through art theft. You know, as one does. He’s got a truly clever scam worked out that allows him to be a smooth, sophisticated cat burglar and steal valuable works of art without the victim even realizing he’s been robbed.

And then, through his art-expert wife, he learns that a newcomer in town, Clas Greve (Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), is harboring an Old Master that has been missing since it was stolen by the Nazis. This is too tempting a target for Roger, particularly if it also serves as a sly emasculation of the tall Nordic warrior type, a punishment for flirting with his wife. (Roger is short, as he takes pains to inform us, and rather plain, as we can see for ourselves.) But who is playing whom? Clas turns out to be an actual warrior, a badass ex-special forces operative, and–

Well, I won’t spoil. Headhunters — based on Jo Nesbo’s bestselling novel of the same name — is crazy-funny in places, mostly about the excesses of action crime thrillers and hence not at all for the squeamish. (A not-at-all spoilerish example: It turns out it’s not as easy to get a body into the trunk of a car as movies have led us to believe.) Much of it is just so wrong that it ends up just so right. An English-language Hollywood version is in the works, but see this one, and you’ll be able to say you loved the insanity before it was cool.

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GibsonGirl99
GibsonGirl99
Mon, Jan 30, 2017 6:28pm

So, watched this recently, and your review is, as usual, spot on! I also liked the way the film critiqued what must be a common view both in and outside of Norway — in the country of tall, Aryan blondes, what is it like to be either a) short or b) brunette? This added subtext added greatly to our admiration for the cleverness and sheer determination exhibited by Roger in pursuit of his dream.
Loved it, and your review is the perfect reference for fans seeking a referral.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  GibsonGirl99
Tue, Jan 31, 2017 4:39pm

in the country of tall, Aryan blondes

The percentage of blonds in Scandinavia is slightly higher than the rest of the world, but far from the majority are blond.

Glad you liked my review!