„Ninnu Pálmadóttur tekst að blása nýju lífi í gamalkunnugt stef með því að koma stöðugt á óvart,“ skrifar Emily Bernard hjá Collider meðal annars um kvikmyndina Tilverur í umsögn sinni frá Toronto hátíðinni.
Kitlu myndarinnar má skoða hér.
We’re all familiar with the “grumpy man reluctantly befriends innocent child” movie premise. The disgruntled, jaded adult will repel any efforts of connection from the curious youngster, until ultimately being worn down enough to hear what the child wants or needs, only to, slowly but surely realize that they actually need — and can learn from — this kid more than they want to admit. It’s often a safe bet that we learn about why they act the way they do and we are then flooded with empathy. It’s a predictable and comfortable premise that has been explored countless ways, and yet, all feel like they play it too safe. Director Ninna Pálmadóttir, however, breathes new life into a familiar premise, subverting and challenging expectations deftly with Solitude.
Written by Rúnar Rúnarsson, whose 2006 short film The Last Farm was nominated for an Oscar, Ninna Pálmadóttir’s quaint feature directorial debut Solitude follows Gunnar (Þröstur Leó Gunnarsson), an aging farmer who enjoys his isolated, simple life in the beautiful Iceland countryside. Unfortunately, those days are over, as the government appraised the massive rural property and discovered it was worth a very hefty sum. This enormous price point would completely transform anyone’s life, and for many, would make up for any of the inconvenience that comes with leaving behind the place you’ve called home for as long as you can remember. For Gunnar, though, this money means absolutely nothing. His nonexistent reaction when he’s told how much he’d be getting is not only refreshing, but extremely telling of the person he is, and what matters the most to him. Leó Gunnarsson wears this passive resignation for most of the film, which often says more than any line of dialogue ever could.
Gunnar makes his way to the bustling city, clearly unnerved by the sheer number of people, cars, and overall activity. He moves into a modest apartment, trying his best to hold tight to his past life on the farm. (A particularly heartbreaking moment is when he hangs a picture of his beloved horse on his sterile wall.) It would be easy to make Gunnar an antisocial curmudgeon, but Pálmadóttir thankfully takes a more sophisticated route. As the title suggests, Gunnar enjoys his quiet and his solitude, yes, but he doesn’t have an aversion to connection. A lingering glance at a card from a loved one is just one indicator that the man of a few words craves social interaction of some kind. On one of his walks, he passes Ari (Hermann Samúelsson), a sweet paperboy making his way through his usual route. He kindly offers his new neighbor a newspaper, though Gunnar declines. On his return home, Gunnar sees that the precocious boy left him a paper anyway, marking the beginning of their innocent bond.
One day after school, Ari shows up on Gunnar’s front step because he forgot his house keys, and asks if he could wait there for one of his parents (who are equally absent in different ways). There’s an uneasiness in the air, but not because Gunnar is at all annoyed by the boy. He doesn’t make Ari feel bad for interrupting his quiet time, and Ari doesn’t fall into typical child character tropes. He’s curious, like most children are, but it’s endearing, not annoying. Samúelsson plays Ari beautifully, with the right blend of childlike innocence and a maturity from someone who’s been forced to grow up too soon. Gunnar quickly puts together, through peering out his kitchen window to the parking lot, that Ari’s parents loathe each other, and only interact when it has to do with Ari. Gunnar’s tranquil home and simple lifestyle are the refuge Ari’s been missing.
Hermann Samúelsson and Þröstur Leó Gunnarsson Have an Effortless Chemistry
The dialogue in Solitude is incredibly sparse, which works in its favor. Ari and Gunnar’s chess matches at Gunnar’s rinky-dink kitchen table are often silent, with their brief moments of eye contact in between moves being more than enough to convey how their comfort level has gradually increased with each other. Even the way Ari takes a big sip of milk and swirls it in his mouth as he thinks reveals a lot about their dynamic. The quiet is shattered when Ari’s blunt innocence gets the better of him, and he tells his welcoming neighbor that he’s “a little weird,” for not having a television. Gunnar might not have a television, but he has a radio, which plays a big role in a wholesome scene later in the film.
The best, most real friendships are the ones that don’t need constant upkeep, but rather when both parties are more than content just being in the same room together. Knowing that your friend is there is enough, even if you aren’t necessarily speaking. It’s safe, with both having the understanding that the other will readily listen to what they have to say, no matter how silly or meaningful. One of the most poetic moments of the movie is when Ari pipes up that he wishes he had a lot of money, not for toys, but to give to those tangled up in Iceland’s worsening refugee crisis.
As hinted earlier, Pálmadóttir manages to avoid predictability. A devastating misunderstanding will jolt the audience toward the end of the film, only to partially put the pieces back together in time for the end. This is likely to leave some feeling unsatisfied, but it’s also more realistic. In addition to the nuanced story and character development, Solitude has impressive cinematography and production design as well. The beautiful, neverending Icelandic landscape is paired with complicated set pieces, including a car stunt and a flood that mirrors the overwhelmed feeling that Gunnar has from losing the place he loves. It’s the coziness and simplicity of Gunnar’s apartment and outlook on life, as well as the selflessness of our two leads, however, that makes Pálmadóttir’s Solitude the treasure that it is.