the fresh films reviews

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Max Manus (2008)

Joachim Rønning
Espen Sandberg
Max Manus
118 minutes
Sveinung Golimo
John M. Jacobsen
Thomas Nordseth-Tiller

Cast includes:

Max Manus Aksel Hennie ½
Ida Nikoline "Tikken" Lindebrække Agnes Kittelsen ½
Gregers Gram Nicolai Cleve Broch ½
Gunnar Sønstebø Knut Joner
Martin Linge Petter Næss
Kolbein Lauring Christian Rubeck ½
Solveig Johnsrud Victoria Winge
Jens Christian Hauge Kyrre Haugen Sydness
Sigurd Jacobsen Eirik Evjen
Lars Emil Erichsen Jakob Oftebro
Roy Nilsen Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen
Sykesøster Liv Julie Bache-Wiig
Edvard Tallaksen Mats Eldøen
Siegfried Fehmer Ken Duken



The story of Max Manus and his Oslo based resistance cell during the German occupation of Norway 1940 to 1945 is one of the most notable and important paragraphs concerning Norway in WWII, albeit more for its nationalistic and symbolic value than for its military strategic. This film, scripted by first-timer Thomas Nordseth-Tiller (who wrote the script as an examination paper while studying at Academy of Art in San Francisco), deals conscientiously with the perception of wartime Norway and the most important events in Manus' sabotage operations.

There is little doubt that Max Manus represents the culmination of the enormous increase Norwegian films have seen in technical quality over the past 10-12 years. The production values are top notch and the film looks great; a lot better than it sounds, incidentally. Because despite committed performances from all the major actors, the dialogue makes the film feel a little too much 21st century in the more interpersonal segments. In my opinion, Max Manus would have profited from more thorough research and coaching when it comes to diction, terminology and body language. The difference would be one of subtlety (and not at all noticeable to foreign viewers), but it probably would have given the film more emotional impact.

The action sequences, on the other hand, are brilliantly handled. With more experience, the directorial duo of Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg probably would have provided more suspense and tension to the more important narrative junctures in the film, but their in-depth knowledge of the source material and their vision for the portrait of the title character keeps their work tight and industrious. There is a crisp plainness to the way some of the more important action scenes are conducted, such as the scene in which Manus escapes from a section of soldiers in the streets of Oslo. And although Max Manus may not deliver fully on a dramatic and emotional level, it is a justifiable and crafty film with national and international relevance.


Copyright © 11.2.2009 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang