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Directed by Morten Tyldum
Produced in 2011
Main Language - Norwegian with English subtitles
Aksel Hennie, Baard Owe, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Synnove Macody Lund, Julie R. Olgaard, Kyrre Haugen Sydness
A corporate headhunter with a sideline in art theft takes centre stage in this fast-moving Norwegian thriller. It makes for an invigorating cinematic experience, writes Barry Forshaw.
It was one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most subversive skills (and he was proud of it): cajoling us into being on the side of a corrupt protagonist – whether we wanted to or not. It’s the strategy employed by Norway’s most successful author Jo Nesbø in his novel Headhunters, and Morten Tyldum does highly entertaining justice to the novel in his adroit and blackly comic film adaptation.
The diminutive Roger Brown (played with nice understatement by Aksel Hennie) is a seemingly wealthy, intelligent headhunter for a variety of corporations. But he has a secret life: he also practises a successful sideline in art theft, a vocation that helps him maintain a splendidly appointed house and an exquisite wife, Diana (the willowy and imposing Synnøve Macody Lund).
Brown finds himself in dire financial straits and is obliged to make some serious illegal money. He burgles the home of a candidate he has lined up for a
prestigious job, and suddenly things go seriously amiss. He has targeted a Rubens as a way of settling his debts, but during the robbery Brown comes across disturbing facts about his wife. The following day, an associate in the robbery is discovered dead in his car, and Roger finds himself in the sights of another kind of headhunter.
If you are a Nesbø aficionado hungry for a film featuring his damaged but sympathetic copper Harry Hole, you will be obliged to adjust your expectations – the central character in Headhunters is an unpleasant piece of work and it’s a measure of the filmmakers’ skills that we find ourselves rooting for him. The film takes advantage of the presence of an anti-hero to dish out serious punishment for his past misdeeds, including a catastrophic car wreck, gun shots, a nasty dog attack and an encounter with an outdoor latrine that will have you squirming. Though the violence is bloody, it’s laid on with madcap flourishes that give it an almost slapstick feel.
The cinematic quality of the original novel has been successfully transmuted here in Morten Tyldum’s capable hands, and it makes for a particularly invigorating cinematic experience – if, that is, you’re not squeamish.
Barry Forshaw on 10th July 2012
Author of 564 reviews
A fast-moving, cool and gripping Norwegian thriller, Headhunters is based on the bestselling novel by crime writer Jo Nesbo.
Aksel Hennie stars as Roger, a corporate headhunter who supplements the income necessary to fund his luxury home and lavish lifestyle by developing a sideline of stealing expensive works of art from his clients. When he sets his sights on his next target, smooth-talking Danish businessman Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), it quickly becomes apparent that, this time, Roger has definitely chosen the wrong man to steal from.
Length: 100 mins
Cat No: MP1160D
Format: DVD Colour
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