Berlin Film Review: ‘Out Stealing Horses’

Variety | 2/9/2019 | Guy Lodge
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At several points in “Out Stealing Horses,” a seemingly bland observation turns out to carry far more cutting emotional weight. “Fathers are great,” says one old man to another, shortly before an enfolded series of revelations that suggests both men can hardly believe such a thing. “That’s life, things happen,” says a father to a son, knowing full well that nothing in the immediate future is going to happen quite as it should. Norwegian novelist Per Petterson’s international bestseller made a bittersweet virtue of such plain language, evoking the inner lives of men not much good at articulating themselves; Hans Petter Moland’s loving film adaptation, meanwhile, effectively plays lush visual storytelling against its characters’ desolate interiors.

The result is a heartfelt, attractive arthouse item that ought to travel as widely as its much-translated source novel, boosted by the internationally familiar presence of Stellan Skarsgard in the lead role of 67-year-old widower Trond, who retreats into painful childhood memories when he relocates to the remote Norwegian countryside. Darting back and forth across a timeline spanning nearly 60 years, Moland honors Petterson’s flexible, fragmented narrative structure, looping across time as Trond’s troubled consciousness dictates. It all works, however, a little less economically than it does on the page. Where Petterson elegantly knotted an intersecting collection of difficult family histories together in under 300 pages, the film feels a tad ponderous at just over two hours, even with some judicious pruning of the text.

Berlin - Film - Review - Ground - Beneath

Berlin Film Review: 'The Ground Beneath My Feet'

The grandeur of the filmmaking, however, offers its own rewards, beginning with Rasmus Vidbaek’s sumptuous widescreen lensing: The camera caresses the rural Norwegian landscape with enough tactile, transfixing detail to make us understand the complicated hold it exerts on Trond — who, as the film opens in 1999, has only recently returned to his...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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