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Jackpot/Arme Riddere


Stars: Kyrre Hellum, Mads Ousdal, Henrik Mestad, Arthur Berning, Andreas Capellen, Peter Andersson, Lena Kristin Ellingsen, Fridtjov Saheim

Director: Magnus Martens

Norwegian crime novelist Joe Nesbø, whose original story was the basis for director Martens’ screenplay, is quoted as saying this callously cheery if bloodily violent thriller offers, “everything I haven’t seen, but have desperately wanted to see on film, including one hell of a shootout in a porn shop south of the border”. Martens definitely delivers all that, and more. Black comedies don’t come much blacker – or much funnier- than this.

Martens vividly uses the key image of Hellum regaining consciousness while lying underneath the corpse of an overweight stripper after a bloody shootout in a porn shop to establish the essentially grisly-comic tone of a story which unfolds in flashback as police inspector Mestad grills victim/suspect Hellum.

Luckless Hellum, who works as supervisor in a factory employed ex-cons to create Christmas trees from unwanted plastic, joins three of the workers – Berning, Ousdal and Cappelen, in a soccer betting pool. Unexpectedly, they win the jackpot only to have murderous internecine strife break out as a result of their inability to divide up the money…

Martens makes the most of the film’s running time and, in the process, creates a fascinating picture of Norway far removed from the standard wintry Scandinavian gloom and more in line with cynical American moviemaking while still retaining his own cinematic voice rather than, say, employing Guy Ritchie-style homage to American exemplars. The unfamiliar faces of his Norwegian actors add impact, with the verbal sparring of Mestad and Hellum being particularly compelling.

You can small a (almost certainly overdone) Hollywood remake in every scene. Don’t wait – enjoy the original.

Alan Frank

Norway 2011. UK Distributor: Metrodome. Colour.
86 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 06 Aug 2012