Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fantastic Fest 2011 Movie Review- HEADHUNTERS- He Said

Directed by: Morten Tyldum
Written by: Lars Gudmestad, Jo Nesbo, and Ulr Ryberg
Starring: Aksel Hennie, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Synnove Maccody-Lund, and Julie R. Olgaard
Synopsis: A 1.68 M headhunter, who moonlights as an arts thief,
tries to do ONE FINAL SCORE to finally be able to start a family
and things, as they do, go horribly wrong.

There is something so fascinating about movies where the protagonist if forced to deal with his life breaking apart by trying to be too greedy.  Under the surface, HEADHUNTERS is exactly that. I have already read comparisons to the Coen Brothers, but there's more layers to this movie (that I won't spoil) that add to it greatness.

HEADHUNTERS is the only movie that could even be described this early in the festival as remotely optimistic. Yes, there's lots of blood, violence, and really messed up things going on, but through the end, there's a lot of positivity to be had.  There's true signs of affection and love persevering through some messed up situations all through the context of a robbery and corporate espionage and in the end learning to accept oneself propel this story into one of the best movies of the festival.

Roger Brown is a short fella who, as he says in the opening monologue, has the obvious need to overcompensate his stature by being overtly confident and buying his gorgeous wife, Diana, lots of expensive things including a 3 million Euro house that he cannot afford.  To supplement his lavish lifestyle, he is an expert arts thief using his job as a headhunter as a way to profile potential victims.  When Roger takes on a new client, Clas, who also just happens to have an expensive painting.  As he robs Clas, Roger's life begins to unravel and gets torn apart.

If you're going in just reading the description, you might be expecting a completely generic or straight forward movie. However, when you get in the thick of things, HEADHUNTERS has a little bit of everything, which made it feel like you got a mix of a couple of different movies.  There's a robbery aspect, a sexual thriller aspect, even a paranoid chase aspect to it.  I quite enjoyed just how affected Roger becomes from everything; there's a particularly emotional scene when he realizes he is so far out of his comfort zone, and he has been pushed to his limits.

The movie is really carried by Aksel Hennie as Roger, who did one of the best acting performances so far in this festival. The physical and emotional change he goes through during the course of the events in the movie are polar opposites and just a joy to watch. The supporting cast is okay, but none of them stand out in either a good way or a bad way. The whole story kept me invested, even if a lot of the twists aren't that difficult to figure out.

What makes this movie stand out was how out of left field the last 15 minutes were.  They completely took me by surprise in the best of ways and leaves the movie as one of the most positive and happy movies I've seen during the festival so far.

HEADHUNTERS screens again Sunday September 25th, at 3:15 at the Alamo Drafthouse-South Lamar for Fantastic Fest.

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