Northwest Movie Review
This Danish dramatic thriller may not be hugely original, but its story about teens caught in a spiral of drugs and crime is strikingly well told with a strong spark of authenticity. Filmmaker Michael Noer injects the film with an edgy youthful energy that draws out the deeper implications of the events, especially as these young men are led into increasingly dangerous situations simply because they crave all that posturing bravado.
The focus is on Casper (Gustav Dyekjaer Giese), an 18-year-old living in working-class northwest Copenhagen with his single mum (Lene Maria Christensen), his 17-year-old brother Andy (Gustav's real brother Oscar) and their little sister Freya (Annemieke Bredahl Peppink). Looking for ways to contribute to paying the bills, Casper breaks into houses with his pal Robin (Nicholas Westwood Kidd), selling the goods for whatever he can get from local thug Jamal (Dulfi Al-Jabouri). Then after doing a one-off burglary, a much bigger gangster Bjorn (Roland Moller) offers him a better job driving prostitutes to work and selling drugs on the side. Suddenly Casper is living the high life, bringing Robin in for jobs as well. And when Robin's not available, Andy helps out too. But all of this makes Jamal furious, and a war is brewing.
The film is carefully constructed to juxtapose the two sides of Casper's life, family and criminality, which he thinks he can keep separate. His general ignorance is almost as annoying as his relentless macho swagger, blithely courting real danger as if he's indestructible. Which is of course the film's key point. These young guys have no idea what they're playing with, systematically destroying any chance they have at a positive future while thinking they've never had it so good. But it's clear that they don't have many other options. And the older people around them utterly misread their behaviour.
Noer tells this story with sharply realistic direction, drawing performances from the fresh cast that are sometimes startlingly honest. The best scenes are the lighter improvised moments in which the characters let down their guard and the actors allow their personalities to show behind the tough-guy facade. On the other hand, the gang-war plot feels more than a little pushy, as the story's gears clank loudly to generate suspense that builds to a series of escalating clashes. Some of these scenes burst with authentic emotions and gritty violence that's genuinely unnerving. So even if it all feels rather familiar, it's depicted in a way that brings the message home with a strong kick.
Cast & Crew
Director : Michael Noer
Producer : Rene Ezra, Tomas Radoor
Screenwriter : Rasmus Heisterberg, Michael Noer
Starring : Gustav Dyekjaer Giese, Oscar Dyekjaer Giese, Lene Maria Christensen, Annemieke Bredahl Peppink, Nicholas Westwood Kidd, Roland Moller, Dulfi Al-Jabouri, Ali Abdul Amir Najei