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cast: Keith Carradine, Margrét Vilhjálmsdóttir, and Ingvar E. Sigurdsson

director: Fridrik Thor Fridriksson

95 minutes (15) 2002
widescreen ratio 1.77:1
Tartan DVD Region 0 retail

RATING: 2/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
American ex-con Steve sets off to visit his mother's side of the family in Iceland, where he finds only bad memories of childhood visits and isolation. Thoughts of suicide are forgotten, however, when he meets eccentric artist Dua, who is nursing a rare (and valuable) Icelandic falcon back to health. But the malevolent chief of police has taken a fancy to her, and when Steve defends her, they both have to flee the country. Convinced now that she is his daughter, fathered during a youthful visit, Steve determines to sell the falcon to provide for her - but is that the best thing for either of them?

Falcons is one of those hilarious films which bears no relation to the reality of life or of human nature. Steve helpfully records his innermost thoughts on tape for the convenience of Dua and the audience, immigration procedures don't hold up the action, and the plot is propelled by wild coincidences. Learning that they have to leave the country, Dua stuffs every penny they have into a charity collecting tin - an action that's presumably supposed to brand her 'endearingly kooky', but which seems more like an artificial obstacle to their escape (or the product of severe brain damage). And apparently, Iceland is a police state where, upon arresting a suspect, the chief of police can shoot their pet dogs and burn down their house, all in front of an unconcerned local community.

Evenly split between Icelandic meanderings and doomed attempts to sell the falcon to the German underworld (is there really a petty criminal in every small town who knows how to fence rare birds?), the film is unsure what it's about or what it's saying. It seems to be aiming at character-driven personal drama, but, as Dua ambles along in an innocent haze while the self-pitying Steve lurches toward some kind of redemption, but it's hard to really care about their clich�d, ill-explained lives.

It seems churlish to criticise a film by a young director from a country with a fledgling film industry, but Falcons really has almost nothing to recommend it. Iceland has one of the world's oldest and richest literary traditions - one in ten of the current population is a published author - so let's see more Icelandic films, by all means: but let's have a plot and some characters next time...

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