Pyromanen (Pyromaniac)London Film Festival 2016
6th October 2016 9.00pm at BFI Southbank
7th October 2016 9.00pm at Ritzy Cinema
9th October 2016 8.45pm at Vue West End
Erik Skjoldbjærg’s sixth film is a chilling study of a lost boy-turned-arsonist upon returning home after spending time in the military. Pyromanen (Pyromaniac) is an absorbing, if somewhat trundling, feature.
The movie relies on the understated skill of its cast to convey the dire consequences of reckless arson on the sleepy village of Finsland. Tron Nilssen’s portrayal of Dag, a slightly strange 19-year-old obsessed with fire and seemingly teetering on the edge of sanity due to one too many rejections in his life, is wonderfully subtle and dispiriting. His loving parents and welcoming home do not provide an adequate explanation for Dag’s character, however, and his sadness ultimately seems to err on the side of trite.
The depiction of Finsland, a secluded Norwegian town, is a testament to Skjoldbjærg’s impressive composition and camerawork. Filmed during the summer, a near-constant half-light adds to the sensation of confusion, being neither awake nor asleep thus blurring the lines between desires and fulfilment. A sense of unease and dark foreboding is compellingly evident throughout the film, regardless of the fact that the pyromaniac’s identity and his intentions are no secrets. Rolling green landscapes and crystalline lakes make up the backdrop of the idyllic Finsland adding to the mystery behind Dag’s desire to watch it all burn.
Based on true events that took place in Norway in 1978, Pyromanen’s style is distinctly documentary-inspired whilst framed as a suspenseful drama. Liv Osa’s performance as Dag’s mother is powerful in its delicacy, as she effectively captures the inexplicable emotions of simultaneous love and guilt for her son’s destructive actions. The indecipherable Dag is the focal point of the film, but the lack of explanation or even mere suggestion as to his nature renders Pyromanen frustratingly unsatisfying. In spite of this, elegant camerawork and strong performances make this film a success in aesthetic cinema.
Pyromanen (Pyromaniac) does not have a UK release date yet.
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