PALE STAR Edinburgh International Film Festival 2016 ) Review Monday 20th June 2016. Featuring Þrúður Vilhjálmsdóttir, Isabelle Joss, Þröstur Leó Gunnarsson, Iain Robertson and Freyja Björk Guðmundsdótti


Set against the at times bleak and isolated Icelandic landscape and long lonely roads going only into the horizon, this film debut by Scottish theatre director Graeme Maley gives us a piece of work as bleak and uncompromising as the landscape in which it is set as we meet two women both the subject of long term physical and sexual abuse who on the surface you would think have so much in common.

From the opening scenes of domestic violence and murder, the tone is set for the whole of this film and with very minimal dialogue in either English or Icelandic a long time we are left with only uncompromising visuals to tell the story for us.  In fact, dialogue is minimal throughout this film and that is a shame as there is so much more about the very troubled people that we meet that I want to know.

Tourist Molly escapes her abusive husband, leaving him locked in their caravan as she drives away down an lonely open road. The vehicle breaks down in the middle of nowhere and Molly is  helped by a very troubled local called Solveig . 

Solveig is an extrememely troubled woman, and a combination of many years of domestic and sexual abuse have driven her over the edge of sanity to protect herself and her young daughter from harm.  Unfortunately, that very protection of her daughter has itself turned to its own form of abuse and produced a very troubled young girl.

Featuring Þrúður Vilhjálmsdóttir, Isabelle Joss, Þröstur Leó Gunnarsson, Iain Robertson and Freyja Björk Guðmundsdóttir, this is at times an uncomfortable film to watch and as an audience you are never allowed any escape from the dark world that we enter from the very start of this film.

Oddly for a film grounded in such dark realism, a few of our characters do seem to make remarkably quick recoveries from what should have been debilitating blows and injuries that should take far longer to recover from.  Perhaps more time has elapsed than I have guessed here as time as a reference point in its passing is lost a little in this Icelandic landscape.

22 June, 20:35 at Cineworld 5
23 June, 20:35 at Cineworld 5

Review by Tom King

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