starring Gunnar Eyjólfsson, Hilmir Snær Guðnason, Hélène de Fougerolles, Kristbjörg Kjeld
screenplay by Baltasar Kormákur, based on the play by Olafur Haukur Símonarson
directed by Baltasar Kormákur
by Walter Chaw A family melodrama that's a little like Chekhov but a lot more like Telemundo, Baltasar Kormákur's The Sea (Hafið) takes the bare bones of "King Lear" and fashions from them the sort of bleeding hair-render that runs roughshod through the Altman/Bergman canon without the benefit of genius. Its use of foreground, of mannered close-ups and overlapping dialogue, of old men journaling their lives at the end of their lives, all feel at odds with the film's weightless, familiar tale of an old man shackled to the ideal of a better era in opposition with subsequent generations of useless, snivelling bastard children trying to feed off the corpse of said better era, the irony of that Icelandic tradition including a sort of culturally institutionalized rape (the contention of which I find to be not merely shockingly reductive, but deeply suspect besides) mentioned but left unexamined for the most part. The problems of The Sea aren't restricted to this reliance on reckless ascriptions of cultural archetype for irony or poignancy (an Ayn Rand-ian predilection for staging hypothetical, unwinnable arguments in their extreme), extending to issues as problematic as a script (adapted from a Olafur Haukur Símonarson play by Kormákur, a sometime-actor who appeared as the mad scientist in Hal Hartley's No Such Thing) that is as repetitive in regards to dialogue as to scenario.