Jar City (Myrin) (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner10/09/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 93 mins

Engaging, atmospheric thriller with strong performances, a gripping script and fantastic direction by Baltasar Kormakur.

What's it all about?
Based on the novel by Arnaldur Indridason, Jar City is set in Iceland and stars Ingvar E Sigurdsson as Inspector Erlendur, who's assigned to the case of a trucker who was found murdered in his apartment. The discovery of a photograph seems to link the murder to a 30-year-old unsolved case involving a dead child, but when Erlendur tries to investigate further he runs into a wall of silence.

The case eventually leads Erlendur to a genetic facility (the Jar City of the title), where he meets researcher Orn (Atli Rafn Sigurdsson), whose own family tragedy may well be linked to the case. Meanwhile, Erlendur has problems of his own, as his junkie daughter Eva (Agusta Eva Erlendsdottir) turns up on his doorstep and announces that she's pregnant.

The Good
Sigurdsson is perfectly cast as the world-weary detective and there's good work from Erlendsdottir and Sigurdsson, as well as Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson and Olafía Hronn Jonsdottir as Erlendur's colleagues. The film is also notable for the ugliness of its supporting cast, which gives it an atmosphere that hovers between the grotesque and the realistic – there are no beautiful TV detective types here.

Writer-director Baltasar Kormakur maintains an excellent pace, allowing the mystery to unravel naturally, while keeping us hooked as the various elements gradually link together. This is heightened by the story's links to reality, as there really is a controversial, privacy-invading genetic database project in Iceland, whose ostensible purpose is to track diseases.

The Great
The film is also beautifully shot, with cinematographer Bergsteinn Bjorgulfsson making terrific use of the stark landscapes and weirdly sunless lighting. Similarly, the script is excellent, with strong, detailed character work and a surprisingly moving climax.

Worth seeing?
In short, this is a superbly made, thoroughly engaging thriller that exerts a powerful emotional grip and is well worth seeking out. Recommended.

Jar City (Myrin) has been reviewed by 1 users
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Content updated: 23/10/2017 05:19

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