Director – Morten Tyldum (based on the bestselling novel by Jo Nesbø)
Cast – Aksel Hennie, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Synnove Macody Lund, Eivind Sander, Julie Olgaard
Run time – 98 mins
Scandinavian cinema is going from strength to strength.
Within the last decade, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Let The Right One In, Open Hearts and After the Wedding have helped launch the Nordic film industry to the forefront of the ‘foreign-movie’ genre, and that’s just the tip of an iceberg of films from Northern Europe. Now, get ready to add Headhunters to that list.
Sophisticated, suave, sexy (and that’s the first minute and a half), the film opens with our protagonist, Roger Brown, instructing us on the best way to nab art from someone’s house. By day he’s a highly successful head-hunter but, due to his lavish spending, is forced to moonlight as an art thief. The proverbial fan is hit when new client Clas Greve, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (who looks so much like Sean Bean it’s scary), enters the fray- and our Rog sniffs an opportunity to put his financial worries to bed once and for all.
One of the film’s greatest characteristics is how it takes the audience on a journey (*sigh at the cliché*) with its leading man. ‘Roger Brown’ may sound more like someone from Oldham than Oslo, but Aksel Hennie’s acting is superb- and despite his largely detestable character (he could easily be the bad guy in another movie), we sympathise with him and back him to the hilt throughout, even though at the same time we enjoy his downfall from arrogant businessman to being thrown into (literally) a dog-fight for his life. This contradicting position held by the audience owes a massive debt of gratitude to the superb scriptwriting of Lars Gudmestad and Ulf Ryberg-it's sharp, clear and gripping, and has built brilliantly on the framework laid by Nesbø's novel.
It’s clearly influenced by Hollywood. For those of you who are new to the world cinema, this film represents a cracking opportunity to aid a transition from the American blockbusters to this new cinematic experience, whilst maintaining the Nordic conventions that will make the avid film fan, such as myself, very cheery indeed.
Don't forget to catch up with Headhunters' leading man – our interview with Nikolaj Coaster-Waldau is here.
Words by Richard Preston