New Directors | New Films
Long Review | Winter Brothers

Hlynur Palmason | DEN, ISL | 100'


After the short film “Seven Boats” (2014), Hlynur Palmason, an Icelandic filmmaker who works between his home country and Denmark, has his feature film debut with “Winter Brothers” (2017). Filmed in Denmark in 16mm, Palmason wraps the violence of his film’s universe in a pale and luminous texture that puts in evidence both the isolation and desolation of a remote place that faces a rigorous winter.

From the claustrophobic penumbra of a limestone mine, Winter Brothers transits to the exterior in blatant contrast to the saturated and pale brightness of the cinematography. However, it preserves the gloomy and squalid atmosphere from that place of darkness we are confronted with in the initial sequence. Sometimes through an oneiric register, the movie follows Emil and his brother in their daily toil and on the progressive isolation. Specially of Emil (in a memorable performance by Elliot Cross Hove, winner of the Best Actor Award at the 70th Locarno International Film Festival), who shows difficulties in establishing relationships with the people around him. From the miner’s day-to-day prosaicism, we see him work, we discover that he’s been stealing chemicals that are stored in the factory to confection homemade liquor, which turns out to be harmful, resulting in the hospitalization of one of the workers, and we gain knowledge of his relationship with his brother, his girlfriend and the other workers.

The plot unfolds thus in a deep reflection on isolation, violence, and social incompatibility. Emil’s «dark side» is revealed to us in flashings of his daily routine, as his brother points out, «a dark side that everyone has in their deep». But is this «dark side» innate to Emil’s nature? “Winter Brothers” does not offer answers or makes moral judgments. Through the slow chain of images, Palmason creates an atmosphere of violence that seems to merge the real with the imaginary, gradually (and deliberately) abandoning the linearity of the narrative to plunge into Emil’s revolt and in his eagerness to change in face of an uncertain and vague future.


By Tiago Vieira da Silva | Translated by Isaura Arantes

On Leuk Jornal | Edition 1 | 18 - 19 JUN 2018