Directed by Baltasar Kormakur. Starring Hilmir Snaer, Victoria Abril, Hanna Maria and Thrudur Vilhjalmdottir.
The cinematic directorial debut of actor and theatre director, Baltasar Kormakur, takes a wry look at the life of one man living in the Icelandic capital. Twenty-eight-year-old Hylnur (Snaer) is unemployed, shares a cluttered apartment with his mother and appears to suffer from an aversion to adulthood. His monotonous daily existence is punctuated by attempts to satisfy his sexual impulses, with activities ranging from the solitary to cyber and almost cruelly casual. From the outset, the film conveys the hero's frustration with a world where his only entertainment centres on drunken episodes inevitably resulting in half-hearted encounters with all-too-familiar faces.
Hlynur's inertia is soon shattered in spectacular fashion by the arrival of his mother's vivacious 'friend', Lola, a Spanish flamenco teacher, played brilliantly and with a characteristic lack of inhibition by Abril. Suddenly the aimless hero has something on which to focus his attentions. All the actors handle both the comic and dramatic potential of the complicated love triangle that soon evolves well.
This is an off-the-wall comedy, veering between the unlikely, the almost tragic and the funny with impressive ease. Much use is made of dramatic Icelandic landscapes, especially in the film's more pensive moments but equally effective are the incidental moments of visual humour, all the more amusing for their randomness.
The pacing is a little too languid at times and the soundtrack, a Blur-Sugarcubes collaboration, is also a bit disappointing. Nevertheless, '101 Reykjavik' remains an engaging piece of work. It is a funny and intelligent examination of a modern-day identity crisis that manages to both revel in and transcend its specific context in order to explore universal themes in its own quirky way.