Rune Denstad Langlo made a stunningly successful debut – after having directed a couple of documentaries – with his first feature film back in 2009. His Norwegian comedy entitled North tells the story of a ski athlete who is trying to reconstruct his personality and life by isolating himself up in the North.

Human beings grow up becoming familiar with different cultures, which entails obtaining, and then forming rather dissimilar views on the world. The nature of their relationship with time also originates in their culture, so one can really say that time is a social construction.

Western cultures, for instance, usually treat time as something precious and valuable, which also influences the measurement of profit being produced, and therefore people tend to look for new techniques to increase workplace efficiency. The members of such cultures are also known for being goal-oriented, and focus more on the goals rather than the road towards them. However, one can find cultures that actually praise the journey and not the end of it.

Rune Denstad Langlo’s does give a purpose to his main character but that works only as an excuse to document the journey that Joran is about to take on. His aim is to encounter with his son, still, the opportunity of seeing what happens between father and child is not offered to the viewers, they witness Jomar’s healing process after his nervous breakdown instead.

The fairly depressed man is heading to North on his snowmobile, and during his voyage he meets people with different backgrounds and conducts conversations on various aspects of life. And even if he tries to stay isolated, he soon finds himself enjoying other people’s company – especially when alcohol is involved.

Not just Jomar, but the snowy Nordic landscape plays also important role in the film. Jomar actually needs to overcome the difficulties that nature throws him, but this sometimes silent, sometimes extremely loud fight goes beyond the physical world, it enters the psychological as well. Step by step, Jomar leaves sadness and depression, and the sun starts to shine above him again.

As always plenty of humorous events appear on the screen. Scandinavian films tend to reflect upon humans’ misery by lining up occurrences that are based on self-irony. Laglo continues this so-called tradition and provide his audience with a variety of funny moments, through which the perfect balance of seriousness and cheerfulness can be realised. This is indispensable in order to make the journey as enjoyable and instructive as possible.

It’s definitely not a coincidence that North won at the Titanic International Film Festival in 2011. The Norwegian director explores issues of everyday life that almost everyone has to face at some point their lives. It is true that now and then they attempt to skip the journey, especially when something tragic or extremely joyful about to occur in the finale, but is this rush really worth it?

CategoriesFeatures Issue 9
Barbara Majsa

Barbara is a journalist, editor and film critic. She usually does interviews with film-makers, artists, designers, and writes about cinema, design and books.