The Wave

 

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This Norwegian production brings back the disaster movie in high style.

  

Wave, The

 

Watching Roar Uthaug's The Wave one is reminded of Juan Antonio Bayana's The Impossible (2012) since both films deal with a family who, finding themselves in the path of a tsunami, become separated. However, it is important to distinguish between these two works because The Impossible, although having all the characteristics of a mainstream film, was based on a real story and made as a response to a real-life tragedy. In contrast, the only link that The Wave has with reality is that it deals in events that could come to pass. Ahead of the title appearing we see black and white footage related to a tsunami that occurred in Norway in 1905 and a later event in 1934 was also remembered when this screenplay was being written. Nevertheless, given that Åkerneset which features here is a huge unstable mountain and that experts believe that eventually there is bound to be a rock fall that will threaten the nearby community of Geiranger, The Wave is best regarded as a film that sets out to show what could happen at some future date. But the essential fact is that, unlike The Impossible, this is a genre picture, albeit a very good one.

 

The able director, working closely with his writers John Kåre Raake and Harald Rosenløw Eeg, is seeking to revisit the kind of film that Hollywood gave us when disaster movies were in vogue (think The Towering Inferno or Earthquake since the exact nature of the threat is no more than a matter of choice). But wisely the present team recognise the importance of creating characters in sufficient detail to involve the audience emotionally, even if in one sense spectacle is the name of the game. Thus, with suitably selected peripheral figures, the main characters here are four members of one family, the Eikjords. Dad (Kristoffer Joner) is a geologist working at the Early Warning Centre that keeps a close eye on the mountain, mother (Ane Dahl Torp) is employed in the local hotel where tourists stay, Jonas Hoff Oftebro plays their teenage son and Edith Haagenrud-Sande is their young daughter.

 

By the time that dad's fears prove all too well founded, the build-up has given us a concern for these people and all of the players perform well - Joner, in particular, brings inner conviction to his central role, even if the figure of a man strong on instinct who knows better than his colleagues is something of a cliché. Not that a genre film like this is frightened of clichés, and when it comes to the climax - not the tsunami but its aftermath and the struggle to survive - The Wave does not hold back from playing on the emotions of the audience. But that more or less comes with the territory, and this is an extremely adroit take on a genre no longer in fashion. It may bring nothing new to the table, but for those with a liking for this kind of movie this film provides ample evidence that when done well there is still plenty of life in it (alongside death of course, even if that is usually, but not always, reserved for villains and minor characters). 

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Kristoffer Joner, Ane Dahl Torp, Jonas Hoff Oftebro, Edith Haagenrud-Sande, Laila Goody, Håkon Moe, Arthur Berning, Fridtjov Såheim, Eili Harboe, Thomas Bo Larsen, Silje Breirik.

 
Dir Roar Uthaug, Pro Are Heidenstrøm, Screenplay John Kåre Raake and Harald Rosenløw-Eeg, Ph John Christian Rosenlund, Pro Des Lna Nordqvist, Ed Christian Siebenherz, Music Magnus Beite, Costumes Karen Fabritus Gram.

 
Fantefilm/Film Väst-StudioCanal.
105 mins. Norway. 2015. Rel: 12 August 2016. Cert. 15
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