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Jackpot – Magnus Martens Knockout Nutty Norwegian Noir


Norwegian numbnuts


 Jackpot **** Magnus Martens

I’m stumped. I may need your help dear reader. If I described some of the unspeakably violent things that happen in this movie, most of you, I hope, wouldn’t go anywhere near it. But you’d be wrong. And why you would be wrong is my dilemma. To lay it out:

Why is the gratuitous violence in Lawless and films like it so objectionable when equally, if not worse, scenes pictured in this nutty Norwegian noir, very very noir, comedy are not?

Of course you may question both premises and I get that – familiar territory. But the more interesting question it seems to me is to accept the premises – if only for the sake of argument – because there aren’t any easy answers.

This dilemma is doubly difficult for me because I hate the Horror genre – which for shorthand I distinguish from violent thrillers with the rule of thumb guide that in Thrillers it is the death that matters but in Horror it is the killing – plot and tone-wise. This is a broad distinction not a detailed analysis. I have listened to people cracking up with laughter at the stylised violence in Horror movies and it sends a chill down my spine. Yet here I was in a sense doing the same. And even more surreally I saw it at the beautiful renovated old Berkhamsted Rex where there are more than your average number of what we may call chronologically talented patrons. A most demure lady into the ‘genarian’ stages of her life was chuckling sweetly beside me when the logistical problem of how to get a corpse out of a flat with no discreet back door was complicated by the fact that the body was too big to get through a half window. The laughter from my clearly well-heeled, twin-setted neighbour escalated with my own when the logical but surreal posited solution to this conundrum was to cut him in half and chuck him out in two bits.

The crimp in this masterplan was that they didn’t have a power saw so set about this grotesquely abused late human being with a blunt axe. The esoteric technical debate about whether they should remove the head first or go for straight bifurcation was resolved when several hefty whacks with the axe to the midriff just kept bouncing off. Complaints from the heavy-breathing, thwarted corpse-cutter that Oscar didn’t have the right tools, was greeted with the indignant reply – what, I’m supposed to be into DIY now?

You will begin to get the tone of this one-off, shamelessly and shamefully entertaining surreal little Scandinavian oddity.

If you want a bit of laugh, read the Time Out review of Jackpot. The guy doesn’t seem to have realised that this is a scabrous Nordic black comedy in a totally different genre from the normal Jo Nesbo-based thriller released earlier this year – Headhunters.

Oscar (an engagingly bemused Kyrre Hellum) runs a Christmas tree factory that specialises in employing ex-cons who shall we say are less than committed to maximising corporate results. Freakily dumb, each in their own way, Thor, Dan and Billy drag Oscar into their football lottery syndicate in part one feels because if they win he is the only one capable of the maths required to divide the winnings by four.

When the ticket comes up yielding some 1.7m Kroner they first celebrate and then realise they can avoid the challenge of Primary school maths if they don’t have to divide the winnings up at all. While Oscar is out getting more booze from a gangster strip club down the road, the remaining threesome embark on the first step in this mathematical simplification by fetching a claw hammer to Thor (nice little irony) before he has a chance to kill them.

Oscar returns from the booze run to find the two remaining idiots contemplating the logistical challenge above. Front door egress is out because Oscar’s ex-cop landlord has already been up to complain about the noise. As you would.

The series of utterly logical but supremely stupid events that follow involve ad hoc re-decoration of Oscar’s flat (guess what colour); a new line in red rather than white plastic Christmas Trees; the failure of Thor, even in death, to keep his head when all around him are …..; a five-way Resevoir Dogs stand-off in the strip club; and an 8 body massacre which ends up with Oscar trapped beneath the body of an extremely well-endowed lady stripper.

The film starts at the end with world-weary, sarcastically ironic Detective Inspector Solør (a delicious portrayal from Henrik Mestad) arriving at the scene of the mayhem and eventually discovering the still bemused Oscar who had really been letting things get on top of him.

This is an off-the-wall almost unique, mad, droll little comedy to be cherished a bit like a favourite episode of the Goon Show or say Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which in tone it sometimes recalls.

I’m a little ashamed; and very shame-faced to say – I loved it. But my little lady was still chuckling as she left the cinema – so I don’t feel quite so guilty.

As for my question? Well I guess all real comedy, laughter, is so inaccessibly embedded in our unconscious that it defies rational analysis. A bit like Art I guess.

Highly recommended.








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