Review: Virgin Mountain-Fúsi (2015)

Directed by: Dagur Kári | 94 minutes | drama | Actors: Gunnar Jónsson, Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir, Sigurjón Kjartansson, Margrét Helga Jóhannsdóttir, Franziska Una Dagsdóttir, Arnar Jónsson, Thorir Sæmundsson, Þorsteinn Gunnarsson, Friðrikðunnðóðósson Ari Matthíasson, Sigurður Skúlason

The intruder. It is a proven, narrative mechanism to get a film going by taking one or more characters out of their comfort zone. By breaking that status quo, it enables the characters to experience personal growth. Whether the intruder stays or goes, the change is final. The characters have become different people. The main character in Iceland’s “Virgin Mountain” even has to deal with two intruders who will turn his life upside down for good.

That main character is Fúsi (a well-shy acting Gunnar Jónsson), a grown man who still lives with his overly protective mother. As a child in a full-grown, nice body, he knows few friends. With one he reenacts battles with childlike hobby armies. The other is a radio host whom he has never met in person. At work at the airport, he is bullied by his colleagues. Furthermore, his life has little variation. In short, Fúsi is someone who eats the same meal every week, in the same restaurant and at the same table, in all solitude.

Although his mother does enter into relationships with others, Fúsi continues to shut herself off from the outside world. This will change when the two aforementioned intruders make their appearance. The first is a young girl, Hera, who comes to live in the flat below the one where Fúsi resides. Their shared love of toys is the start of a solid friendship, which is not experienced by everyone. Fúsi himself does not see the strange thing about it. Sjöfn (a captivating Ilmur Kristjándóttir), a spry woman who makes Fúsi go crazy during line dancing, makes a bigger impression. When the woman also turns out to have a dark side, Fúsi takes her care.

The changes in Fúsi’s life are supported by the use of color in “Virgin Mountain”. In the beginning of the movie, blue, cold colors predominate. It symbolizes the loneliness and isolation that characterize Fúsi. But over time, as the two invaders have left their mark, the color spectrum shifts towards the warmer yellows and reds. Fúsi has undergone its metamorphosis. The girl Hera teaches him to realize that he is different from the rest of the world. Sjöfn shows that society is often just as crazy. With a greater awareness and sense of responsibility, he is ready to face the world.

That is not surprising. The tragicomic “Virgin Mountain” closely follows genre conventions, lurking predictability and long-windedness. The play with color also contributes to this. For example, each scene reveals its facts early on. By using the emotional palette to the full, “Virgin Mountain” works enough on the emotions to satisfy the bottom line.

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