Sunday, October 18, 2009

Erik Poppe's TROUBLED WATER at NYC's Scandinavia House/Norwegian Film Week

The coming week will see the continuation and final few days of New York City's Scandinavia House presentation of Norwegian Film Week (you can find the schedule here: click and keep scrolling down until you see the entire program), which presents a selection of six recent films from Norway, including the work of both established directors and a new generation of film-
makers. Among the roster of what looks like some very worthwhile films, there's one I can commend to you for certain: TROUBLED WATER from writer Harald Rosenløw-Eeg and director Erik Poppe (shown just below), both of whom collaborated earlier on Hawaii, Oslo.

Troubled Water has already won two of Norway's official film awards last year (it was nominated for six) as well as walk-
ing away with the Audience Award at the 2008 Hamptons International Film Festival -- which I find a little surprising. Audience awards almost always go to feel-good movies (even sometimes to good feel-good movies) but Troubled Water is too complicated a film to fit easily into that category. It deals with victims and perpetrators who are them-
selves victims, slowly piecing together past and present as it keeps looping back and in on itself -- in order that we might better understand the complexity of the situation and the pain that drives two of the leading characters forward.

Religion plays an interesting part in the puzzle, too, and for a change offers more questions than answers or consolation. One young woman, the church's priest, upon being told she sounds naive, responds, "I am naive; that's why I'm a priest." Troubled Water begins with a kidnapped child and continues through prison, rehabilitation, re-entering society and the lives of the two "families" involved in the situation. Water imagery is fluent throughout, and the many sequences of flashbacks/memories are handled in a more sophisticated manner than usual: They seem closer to the way the human mind actually works than the slick editing-cum-light-show that we often get from filmmakers on this subject.

Organ music is also a highlight of the film (one character is particularly adept at it and we hear a lovely organ rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Waters). The cast of a half-dozen lead players (two of which are shown above and two more below) and as many again in supporting roles is -- to a man, woman and child -- excellent. Above everything, however, hovers the pain that comes with the loss of a child. This persists, as we learn in one superb scene set around a restaurant dinner table, no matter how that loss occurs. Troubled Water plays at Scandinavia House on Wednesday, October 21, at 6 pm. If you can't get to it, don't despair: Film Movement has picked it up for distribution, and its membership will receive the movie as its November '09 release. It will be available to the general public this coming February for either purchase or rental.

Scandinavia House, the home of the American-Scandinavian Foundation (AFS), is located at 58 Park Avenue (at 38th Street), New York City. Phone: (212) 879-9779 or Email: A ticket to each film costs $9 ($6 for ASF members) and a series pass costs $45 ($30 ASF Members).

(Photos are from the film and/or cribbed from the IMDB site.)

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