Film #36: Cold Fever (1995)

aka: Á köldum klaka
director: Friðrik Þór Friðriksson
language: English, Japanese, Icelandic, German
length: 85 minutes
watched on: 6 November

I watched this film straight after the previous one, for the first time in a while. Comparatively, it’s much less dialogue-focussed, and relies more on its visual component and on lightly black comedy.

The film’s story is basically that of a Japanese man who travels to Iceland to administer funeral rites for his parents, who died in an accident some years before. It begins in Japan, highlighting the monotony of his corporate life in Tokyo, and in many ways paints the trip to Iceland as a form of great escape – most notably, it starts with a small and sepia 4:3 image when he is in Japan and expands it out to full widescreen when he travels to Iceland, with brighter colours. I found this device quite trite, especially since my attention was drawn to it quite blatantly, but I’m assured it works well in the cinema. But the essential story is that of a fish out of water. The man is clearly uncomfortable in Iceland, which is very sparsely populated and has overly friendly residents; the antithesis of busy Tokyo.

The rest of the story follows fairly standard road trip tropes. He travels in a faulty car across Iceland, picking up weird characters along the way and dropping them off ten minutes later. The most memorable of these were a pair of Americans who hold him up at gunpoint and eventually steal his car and ditch him in the middle of nowhere. We get some breathtaking shots of iconic Icelandic winter scenes. And there’s not a lot else to it, really. It’s nice to watch, certainly, but the detail of it is utterly forgettable.

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