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It is a odd concept to construct a coming-of-age tale around a recently retired 67-year-old man, but writer-director Runar Runarsson’s moving and neatly made drama manages to do just that, driven by a powerful and nicely uncompassionate per- formance by Theodor Juliusson as a man who finds a reason to live at the most unlikely time in his life. On the surface, Volcano (Eldfjall) is a bleak story,

but it develops into a tender tale — the final chap- ter of a love story between two ordinary people set against a simple suburban landscape in the Icelan- dic capital of Reykjavik. The film is an easy fit into

festival programming, but somewhat tougher to release theatrically outside Scandinavia. When Hannes (Juliusson) retires from his long-

time job as superintendent at a school, it is clear he is heading into a void. He contemplates suicide before heading home, where he has a taciturn and monosyllabic relationship with his wife, Anna (Johannsdottir), and is ill at ease with his two grown-up children, who come by mainly to see their mother. Hannes goes out fishing in his battered motor-

boat, but when the craft starts to leak he has it delivered to the front garden so he can work on it. But appearances can be deceiving — there is still passion in their marriage, and after a little late- night sex he heads off the next day to find some halibut so his wife can make her favourite soup.

Ice. 2011. 99mins Director-screenplay Runar Runarsson Production companies Fine & Mellow, Zik Zak Filmworks International sales TrustNordisk, www. Producers Thor Sigurjonsson, Skuli Malmquist, Egil Dennerline Executive producer Thomas Gammeltoft Cinematography Sophia Olsson Editor Jacob Schulsinger Main cast Theodor Juliusson, Margret Helga Johannsdottir

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But as the pair settle down to enjoy their

evening meal, Anna collapses with a massive stroke. She is given little hope of recovery by doc- tors, but Hannes insists on staying by her bedside, and then, to his children’s annoyance — and bemusement of hospital staff — he decides to take her home and care for her 24 hours a day. This is when he finds a new reason for living…

and comes of age. He tenderly looks after Hanna, learning how to change her nappy, feed and wash her and give her morphine injections when her pain grows intense. She is essentially braindead, but he refuses to leave her side. His dedication also sees him grow closer to his young grandson — the pair work on Hannes’ boat when the boy’s father comes to visit Anna, and gradually Hannes comes to show affection to the boy. When it becomes clear Anna is in terrible pain,

Hannes is faced with a tough decision but it is one he makes out of love. Volcano is simply constructed, shot largely

inside the couple’s simple home, but it features a few telling exteriors, such as Hannes’ fishing trips and a visit at the end of the film to the volcanic town where the couple came from but left many years before, after an eruption. Often the shots are beautifully framed, with the

most telling a simple scene of Hannes sitting in the hospital waiting area and his children arriving, but not embracing him and sitting on a separate bench. It is a sad and tender scene, and perhaps a moment which seals his determination to adjust his life.

During one hot summer afternoon, the lives of four characters tragically intersect.


OFFICIAL SCREENINGS: May 19, 19:30, Thèâtre Croisette May 20, 11:30, Cinèma Les Arcades


Marché du Film Lerins S8 Tel +33 4 92 99 32 19

n 16 Screen International at the Cannes Film Festival May 18, 2011 Ryan Kampe

+33 6 62 02 06 75

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