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 Reinåmo) 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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