Aberdeen (2001) Short Review

Aberdeen is slightly over the top, sometimes predictable, but entertaining. I’ve seen variations of this same story done a little better in films like Smoke Signals or Garden State. The story and what is presented is quite flawed, but the actors involved make it interesting.

The movie starts with the semi-successful Kaisa who is asked by her sick mother to retrieve Kaisa’s alcohol abusing father from another country (Norway). She reluctantly agrees and the film develops as one of those ‘journey’ movies. Kaisa tries to get her father back to England with a number of complications. The film is reminiscent of films like Midnight Run where the writer is challenged with ways to prevent the characters from simply getting on a plane and flying back.

Ian Hart joins them at some point to form a somewhat unlikely trio. Hart seems even unlikelier opposite of Headey, but the movie works. It’s not a heavy film even with the subject matter… absent fathers… alcoholism… terminal illness… drug use… a good bit of nudity (of the topless kind)… Headey carries the film in a breezy nonchalant way. Even when there’s violence being perpetrated in this, it’s of the non-threatening variety. The       characters kind of know that the story isn’t about that.

I wouldn’t call the film brutally funny but there is humor in this, as well as some very awkward moments, both deliberately and otherwise. There are some sequences that are forced, if not shoehorned into the story. One segment in particular that is there for the very awkward second ending of the movie could have been left out. It was almost like after it was written, the producers asked if the writer could ramp up the action a bit and the extended hit and run/punishment ending is what he/she came up with.

Other things like the nose-helm sequence didnt go over too well in the context of the film. This is one of those cases where it seems if the film came in at 90 minutes as movies used to, the story would have worked a lot better.

Unnecessary emphasis is put on showing Skarsgard’s level of alcoholism. Some of the situations are cliched and a lot of it is repetitive. His rendition of ‘drunken man’ is believable. I’ve seen worse versions of faux drunkenness on film.

It’s not hard to like Lena Headey in this. She is very easy on the eyes and I would suspect she had a career as a model before becoming an actress. She’s sympathetic as the emotionally damaged woman, but I do think the drug use aspect of her character was unnecessary. She had several other issues that stemmed from not having a father figure in her life. The coke plotline seemed like an act of desperation by the writer.

Still, the characters were engaging. Maybe a little of it was just because I felt sorry for them. It’s a good effort, despite the cliched Freudian overtones. There was one big late twist (or two) that caught me off guard. It might have been a little better without the arrest towards the end.

I’ve seen Headey in other films that I liked, but I really loved her in this. She’s hard not to like as Kaisa. She over reacts at times, but I guess usually, no one watches films for characters that react correctly in every situation.  This didn’t quite make my Best Films of 2001, but it is a film that I can see watching again.

4 of 5


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