Welcome to Iceland, Swiss humour on the Icelandic plains
by Muriel Del Don
- Felix Tissi’s latest film was screened at the 51st edition of the Solothurn Film Festival and is in the running for the Audience Award
Nine years on from his last film, Swiss director Felix Tissi presented the world premiere, at the Solothurn Film Festival, of his film Welcome to Iceland [+see also:
film profile], a bittersweet comedy that plays out in the middle of the mysterious plains of Iceland. An involuntary battle between civilization and the wilds of nature, between mountains and wasteland.
What do a suicidal suit, a couple of heavy metal fans from Berlin and a seemingly perfect family on holiday in Iceland have in common? Apparently nothing, yet Felix Tissi shows us that behind an incompatible cacophony of mentalities and points of view lurk somewhat unsettling similarities. Faced with a landscape that is hostile to say the least, and seems inclined to annihilate all forms of “individuality”, the true identity of our thrown-together group is slowly but surely revealed, like a carnivorous flower just waiting to gobble up anyone who gets too close.
It all starts like a forced journey for the group, in search of a real (and symbolic) “way out”. A cloud of confusion hovers over our sacrificial victims, who are surrounded by a landscape that seems savagely artificial, but has the consistency of quicksand. Between situations that become increasingly absurd as the group’s journey progresses, and moments of tension that bring them to the brink of (emotional) eruption, Felix Tissi weaves the story of a personal adventure that, despite everything, maintains a balance between comedy and drama. Welcome to Iceland can be considered a sort of open-air huis clos as the backdrop against which our antiheroes’ story plays out is unchangeable, a wasteland where everything seems unavoidably identical and it is easy, very easy, to lose your way, both geographically and emotionally. Iceland is used as a metaphor for a society that has lost control, of itself, its needs and its desires. A liberating and cathartic landscape that brings out the best (but above all the worst) of “civilised” man.
Felix Tissi allows his characters to “take a break” from the monotony of a life that may seem perfect but actually just follows pre-packaged ideals. Our Swiss director injects the characters, who seem very different at first glance, with a dose of black humour that makes them unexpectedly similar. The family man (played by Marcus Signer, the “Goalie” of Sabine Boss) is perhaps the character that most clearly embodies this ambiguity. By the time they safely get to the Swedish coast, none of the characters are the same, they are bruised and battered, unavoidably confused. Audiences at Solothurn responded enthusiastically to the film, a comedy that meets a certain need for “levity” and escape, topped off with a (healthy) dose of irony and humour in Swiss form. So yes, even the Swiss like to laugh, and loudly at that.
(Translated from Italian)