Ahti Ikonen (Tommi Korpela) is the captain of a large container ship. When he is rushed for time at a port, he violates regulations sending his crew to help unload the ship even though they are unqualified, leading to the death of one of his own. News of the death and the violation spread from port to port and eventually Ahti has to face his guilt as well as a potentially international boycott. Director Axel Koenzen has no interest in romanticising life at sea and instead lingers over tight shots of the crew running fire drills and executing daily tasks in painstaking detail. Much like the documentary
Director Axel Koenzen has no interest in romanticising life at sea and instead lingers over tight shots of the crew running fire drills and executing daily tasks in painstaking detail. Much like the documentary Leviathan (Castaing-Taylor and Paravel), the focus here is on the brutal working conditions of the crew as they carve out a meagre existence in almost complete isolation. That being said the plot is so skeletal that there is very little to cling on to here; Koenzen doesn’t seem to be interested in keeping the viewer engaged, but rather creating an immersive endurance test which wears thin quickly.
The legal conflict stirs the international crew into either siding with or against the captain, which would be ripe for drama, but Koenzen keeps a tight grip on the acting too. The central theme is how Ahti deals with his guilt and his failure as a captain, and there are some rare moments of bizarre emotional outbursts – particularly when he loses his cool during karaoke, trying to bring A Horse with No Name ‘to life for his crew. However, these moments are outnumbered by sequences of dull tedium; he is mostly seen in front of his computer, clicking in silence. Captain Ikonen, much like the director, is more interested in maintenance and schedule than dealing with the death of a crew member. Deadweight attempts to marry modern documentary practices with a mutiny plot, but can only deliver in the former criterion.
Deadweight does not yet have a UK release date.
Read more of our reviews and interviews from the festival here.
For further information about Berlin Film Festival 2016 visit here.