Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Steinþór Hróar Steinþórsson, Edda Björgvinsdóttir, Sigurður Sigurjónsson, Lára Jóhanna Jónsdóttir, Þorsteinn Bachmann, Selma Björnsdóttir, Dóra Jóhannsdóttir, Sigríður Sigurpálsdóttir Scheving
Written by: Huldar Breiðfjörð,
Directed by: Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Icelandic, with English subtitles
Running Time: 89
Date: 08/03/2018
IMDB

Under the Tree (2018)

2 Stars (out of 4)

The Churl Next Door

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson's black comedy from Iceland tells the story of warring next-door neighbors. Konrad (Þorsteinn Bachmann) and his younger, bicycling, sunbathing wife Eybjorg (Selma Björnsdóttir) complain about the tree in the neighbor's yard that blocks their sunlight. Those neighbors, the older couple Baldvin (Sigurður Sigurjónsson) and Inga (Edda Björgvinsdóttir), politely acknowledge the tree, but never do anything about it. Meanwhile, Baldvin and Inga's grown, married son Atli (Steinþór Hróar Steinþórsson), has been caught masturbating to an old sex video by his wife Agnes (Lára Jóhanna Jónsdóttir) and thrown out, so he comes to live with mom and dad. When Inga's cat goes missing, she starts a war on the younger couple. It starts with throwing bags of dog poop, followed by slashed tires, security cameras installed, etc. Director Sigurdsson does an interesting job with the film's exteriors, especially since the apartments look exactly the same, save for the layout of the shrubberies in the yard. The story of the feuding couples almost works, except that the tone is a little too dry, a little too deadpan, and much of the humor simply comes across as mean. But the nail in this movie's coffin is the Atli character. His incredible idiocy is mirrored only by the outsized rage of his wife. They are both thoroughly unpleasant, and they do not connect to the rest of the plot in the slightest; it's a dark, melodramatic story tacked onto a black comedy, and it just doesn't work.

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