Friday, December 18, 2015

At the Movies: "Thale"

At the Movies with Michael5000

Aleksander Nordaas, 2013.

imbd: 5.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 55% Fresh

Thale is a brooding supernatural feature made by a kid from central Norway in his family home. Most of the action takes place in an underground bunker – dad’s workshop, made deliciously squalid with a beautifully selected assortment of old decaying detritus. A great strength of the film is how well this dark, claustrophobic space works as a setting.

There is not a lot of dialog in Thale, which is a good thing, because the version I watched was dubbed, and dubbed badly. I wondered at times if the voice actors actually had a chance to see the film, or if they were just reading their lines in a stiffly conversational tone. Eventually I turned the sound way down and turned on subtitles, which helped.

Now, there is an old tradition in film of making the alien or the supernatural being a beautiful, naked young woman. This strategy has an obvious appeal: it avoids the needs for expensive special effects. In this case, the title character is (probably) a siren-like figure from Norwegian mythology. She is very beautiful, and very naked, but the camera tries to be fairly gentlemanly about the whole thing. It helps that she (Silje ReinÃ¥mo) is a pretty solid actress who does a nice job of inhabiting a very peculiar role. The two male leads have an easier job, displaying almost no emotional range whatsoever. I think it’s intentional. Or, it might be the dubbing.

Prognosis: As a truly independent film, Thale lacks a certain polish. But then, that makes it a little different than most other movies you’ll watch. Its story has enough ambiguities that it doesn’t have to work all that hard to make sense, and that can be a little off-putting. On the other hand, the same lack of concern with backstory gives the proceedings a weird, mysterious vibe. It can seem a bit like pieces cobbled together from other movies you’ve seen, and maybe some old X-Files episodes. But, Thale has a personality of its own, too. It was more engrossing than I expected, even with the awful dubbing, and it has stuck with me more, and longer, than the average movie.

Michael5000's imdb rating: 7.

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