Wild Men (
directed by Thomas Daneskov
starring Rasmus Bjerg, Zaki Youssef, Sofie Gråbøl, Bjørn Sundquist
Martin (Bjerg) has turned his back on his family and society to live in the mountains of Norway and get back to his Viking roots. He dresses in furs and lives in a tent. He hunts. The only problem is that the hunting is harder than he’d expected and pretty soon he’s making a late night trip to the garage for supplies. After getting into an altercation with the staff because they won’t accept his offer to barter an axe for booze Martin is soon being hunted by the police. Back up in the mountains he stumbles on Musa (Youssef), an injured drug smuggler with a bag of bloodstained cash who has just made a tentative hobble away from a car accident where his crew have crashed headlong into a deer. He is also being hunted by the police. And so begins a buddy road movie albeit one that is mostly on foot and where the road is a winding path up and down a mountain.
Wild Men is a dark, deadpan comedy lead by a tremendous performance by Berg as the pathetic man child Martin whose delusional attempts to shake off the shackles of contemporary culture and return to a mythical age of noble masculinity could serve as biting social commentary though the film plays all out for laughs rather than ramping up the satire.
There are fine supporting roles for Sofie Gråbøl as Martin’s wife, who thinks her husband is at a conference, and Bjørn Sundquist as the head cop who is in charge of a particularly reluctant police force including a sniffer dog that always seems to have the day off (out doing “dog business”).
The scenery is spectacular, stunning mountain vistas and dense ancient forest, and it juxtaposes brilliantly with Martin’s dream of some imaginary past whilst still clinging to his phone and a longing for chocolate bars. Later, at a “Viking experience” village that they stumble on, initially believing it to be a real enclave of kindred spirits, Martin steals a plate of sandwiches and the village leader’s hybrid BMW to stake a feeble claim to true Viking spirit.
Much as Martin’s mid-life crisis escapade begins to unravel the more difficult things get and he contemplates a return to his family his buddy Musa, more streetwise though no less insecure, also realises there are alternatives to the path he is travelling. Like the similar stone-face road movie comedies of Aki Kaurismaki and Gustave Kervern/Benoît Delépine, Wild Men retains a great humanity and warmth no matter how hapless, pathetic or desperate its characters become.
Wild Men is in cinemas 6 May from Blue Finch Film Releasing: https://wildmen.co.uk/
Kirk Lake is a writer, musician and filmmaker. His published books include Mickey The Mimic (2015) and The Last Night of the Leamington Licker (2018). His films include the feature films Piercing Brightness (2014) and The World We Knew (2020) and a number of award winning shorts.
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