Jar City

Two seemingly very different deaths form the central puzzle in this engrossing, atmospheric Icelandic thriller. As the story cuts between a grieving genetic scientist, whose small daughter has succumbed to a rare neurological condition, and the brutal, unmourned slaying of a lonely old perv, we know there’s some connection, and thankfully dogged Reykjavik detective Erlendur (played by steely Ingvar E Sigurdsson) is on hand to work it out for us.

At first glance, this seems like the sort of material done to death on TV, as a gruff middle-aged cop uncovers long-buried secrets, squares up to sundry unsavoury characters and copes with a far-from-easy home life. But Baltasar Kormákur’s adaptation of a novel by crime writer Arnaldur Indridason feels genuinely fresh in these unfamiliar surroundings, sweeping helicopter shots making the most of the imposing volcanic landscapes as resounding choral music cranks up on the soundtrack. Bracingly Nordic indeed, and the story’s investigative intrigue is bolstered with some thought-provoking musings on the generational legacy of an isolated island nation (prompted by the results of recent real-life state-sponsored DNA survey). A satisfying, altogether distinctive piece of filmmaking.

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday September 12 2008
Duration: 94 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Cast: Björn Hlynur Haraldssson
Agusta Eva-Erlendsdóttir
Ingvar Sigurdsson
Atli Rafn Sigurðsson
Ólafía Hrönn Jónsdóttir
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