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Review: Northwest

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Ambitions in the underworld

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- A petty thief enters the underworld of drugs and prostitution and sparks the rivalry of gangsters.

Review: Northwest

In Copenhagen’s impoverished and criminally infested Northwest neighborhood, 18-year-old Casper (Gustav Dyekjær Giese) shares an apartment with his mother, younger brother and little sister, living hand-to-mouth as a petty thief, robbing houses to supply the local fence, Jamal.

But Casper has ambitions, and when he is offered a job by the local underworld boss, he deserts Jamal to work for Bjørn (Roland Møller), driving his prostitutes to their work at Copenhagen hotels and clubs, selling coke on the side, and enjoying both. Now, he’s making enough money to support his whole family.

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He is fascinated by his new life – he no longer has to ask his girlfriend to buy drinks at the café – but Jamal is furious, and with his immigrant gang he confronts Gustav and his brother (Oscar Dyekjær Giese), who are now a team. When they later attack them at Bjørn’s house, the gangster suggests that Casper sorts out his problem by giving him a gun and teaching him how to use it. Although apparently tough, Casper is no killer, so at the final showdown it is his brother who shoots Jamal. When Bjørn finds out, he dispenses with Casper’s services in the operation, and he realises that he must flee, pursued by Jamal’s armed supporters who want revenge.

After his feature debut, R [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
(2010), a drama among convicts in a Danish prison, co-written and co-directed by Tobias Lindholm (A Hijacking [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Tobias Lindholm
film profile
]
), Michael Noer has penned this rare and hard-hitting gangster movie with Rasmus Heisterberg (A Royal Affair [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Mikkel Boe Følsgaard
interview: Nikolaj Arcel
film profile
]
) – it’s a well-structured insight into a world that most people only know from newspaper headlines.

Magnus Nordenhof Jønck’s Dogme inspired gritty photography adds to the authenticity of the neighborhood, and the under-the-skin portrayals of Casper and Bjørn by non-professional actors Gustav Dyekjær Giese and Roland Møller brings human life and understanding into this original depiction of outlaws in a conflict that gets out of control.

Noer’s Northwest [+see also:
trailer
film focus
interview: Michael Noer
festival scope
film profile
]
has all the excitement you would want from a crime story, emphasised not so much by violence – it is there, and always around the corner – but by threatening characters in a dangerous milieu. It is also a strong study of a social reality, which could easily push weaker souls into the wrong company. This excellent film should work both for general audiences and the festival circuit.

Produced by René Ezra and Tomas Radoor, for Nordisk Film Production, Northwest opened this year’s CPH PIX Copenhagen International Film Festival on April 11, before released domestically on April 18 by Nordisk Fim Biografdistribution. Besides the international critics’ Fipresci award at the Göteborg International Film Festival, it won a Special Jury Award and the Critics’ Prize at the International Crime Film Festival in Beaune.

photogallery

main awards/selection

Göteborg International Film Festival 2013 
International Film Festival Rotterdam 2013 
CPH PIX 2013 
Tribeca Film Festival 2013 
Transylvania International Film Festival 2013 
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