Jar City – crime fiction from Reykjavik, Iceland

by Peter on April 6, 2011

Jar City, DVD, Arnaldur IndridasonJar City is a sublimely directed and beautifully shot thriller. It is at the same time a murder mystery and a family drama. It provides fascinating glimpses of Iceland and into Icelandic culture. The acting is very good as well, especially the lead actor. The movie is based on the bestselling crime fiction book Jar City (aka Tainted Blood) by the internationally renowed, award winning author Arnaldur Indridason.

Jar City DVDThe mystery is puzzling, more or less incomprehensible. What links a rare genetic disease, the death of a young girl, a murder, a rape which occurred 20 years ago and a missing person? This is the puzzle facing Indridason’s detective, the gloomy, reserved and somewhat philosophical Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson.

New York Times wrote that

“Jar City,” though, turns out to be intricate and pointed, conjuring a haunting, satisfying puzzle out of violence and chaos. The murder, of an old man named Holberg, opens up a nest of older crimes and brooding secrets. Erlendur finds himself investigating a possible rape from 30 years before and unraveling a tangled history of police corruption and petty brutality. What it all has to do with Holberg is no more clear to the audience than it is to the detective. But Erlendur’s combination of bluntness and analytical acumen informs Mr. Kormákur’s storytelling technique, making “Jar City” an unusually forceful and thought-provoking thriller.

This austere but powerful and gripping detective story has been very well received by American audiences. In my opinion this is a very entertaining, superb and quite chilling crime fiction movie, which is fairly close to the book it is based on. It is fascinating and also feels very authentic.

About the movie:

Directed by Baltasar Kormákur; in Icelandic, with English subtitles, based on the novel “Mýrin” (Jar City aka Tainted Blood) by Arnaldur Indridason; released by IFC Films. Running time: 1 hour 34 minutes. With: Ingvar E. Sigurdsson (Inspector Erlendur), Atli Rafn Sigurdarson (Örn) and Elma Lisa Gunnarsdóttir (Gunnur).

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