May 19, 2020  (Web Review)

From Iceland to Eden

Cinema Libre, 88 min., in Icelandic w/English subtitles, not rated, DVD: $19.95, (avail. from most distributors).

Reviewer rating: 2.5/4

Filmmaker Snævar Sölvason’s druggy, occasionally wry crime drama may remind viewers of Trainspotting in some moments, though urban Reykjavik at Christmas time (complete with holiday tunes) adds a mild novelty to the setting before narco-tragic elements familiar to the genre settle in. The hopeless protagonists are Óliver (Hansel Eagle), an easygoing mushrooms user with foggy plans to open his own meditation center, and the more intense, shaven-head Olivia, AKA Lóa (Telma Huld Jóhannesdóttir), a self-styled “dancer” whom Óliver revives after finding her in a bathtub, submerged and nude, at her overdose-victim boyfriend’s place after a night of bad heroin use. Not particularly shaken or wiser for the experience, the couple, now lovers, traffic shipments for a father-son team of local drug lords. They also sell drugs hidden in vintage VHS movies at a flea market as a sideline. When a seemingly untraceable batch of high-purity cocaine lands in their possession, the pair try to do a big score for themselves, but it doesn’t end well. From Iceland to Eden is not filmed in any particularly lucid manner, as Sölvason returns to a labored visual refrain throughout that surrealistically re-imagines Óliver and Lóa as naked and innocent infants in some kind of before-or-after-life, a “soulmate” gimmick that, in the long run, might have been better off left behind at film school (and might leave more than one viewer head-scratching over the plotline’s references to The Little Mermaid). Acting and technical credits are as sharp as one could ask, and the item might be worth considering as a strong optional addition to foreign cinema shelves. (C. Cassady)