By Kathryn Whitney Boole
“The Wave” (Bolgen) is a Norwegian gem of a movie that exists as proof that a great disaster film does not need to boast an A-list star to thrill its audience, nor does it even need to be spoken in the language of its audience. “The Wave” is indeed one of the best disaster movies I’ve ever seen. It is set on a more intimate scale than is normal for that genre. Writer/director Roar Uthaug seems to be an instinctive master storyteller. No scene goes on more than a second longer than necessary. Just enough is revealed from minute to minute to keep you on the edge of your plush new theater seat, rooting for the characters, whose every word you hang on in spite of the fact that they are speaking Norwegian.
Urthaug started his career by making his first film in the 8th grade. As a teen he also made music videos set to his own compositions. His concept of the rhythm and musicality of film assuredly adds to his ability to establish a continuous and graceful visual thread that unravels with a heartbeat cadence in the storyline. The cinematography by John Christian Rosenlund would make a gorgeous travel film by itself without any story behind it. Rosenlund had worked with the director on his film “Cold Prey.” The sound track and editing are also superb and add to the drama. Composer Magnus Belte worked with Uthaug on “Cold Prey” and editor Christian Siebenherz was part of his team on “Escape.”
The actors have such rich and vibrant skills that you can perceive easily what they are saying. It is only necessary to glance briefly at the subtitles from time to time for confirmation. Kristoffer Joner has star quality as the sympathetic protagonist, a flawed yet highly sympathetic manager at an Emergency Warning System Base, and devoted Dad. In fact, none of these characters is perfect, adding to the realistic quality of the tale. Mom Idun, played by Ane Dahl Torp, is tough and strong – maybe too tough. However her somewhat overpowering personality is instrumental in her survival and that of her son, in an almost impossible situation. Jonas Hoff Oftebro, in an excellent performance as son Sondre plays an adventurous, ebullient teen whose personality still harbors the hidden fearfulness of his childhood years. Daughter Julia (Edith Haagenrud-Sande) has the wide-eyed razor quick adaptability of a child, which makes her more courageous in a dire situation than some of the adults. The whole cast is a great ensemble. It is astounding to think that they willingly did most of their own stunts on this shoot for director Uthaug.
The outdoor scenes were filmed in the actual area where the story is set, the Geiranger Fiord in Norway. This fiord has some of the steepest mountains in that country, sheer cliffs rising straight out of the water. Incidentally, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
“The Wave,” which is currently screening at Nuart Theatre in West Los Angeles, will have a limited release in the U.S. It is worth your time to see it. It’s one of the best films in a season of remarkably great movies.
Rated R. 104 minutes.
Kathryn Whitney Boole was drawn into the entertainment industry as a kid and never left. It has been the backdrop for many awesome adventures with crazy creative people. She now works as a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. Reach her at email@example.com. For previously published reviews, see https://kwboole.wordpress.com.