Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Iceland is Best Review: A Quirky Cast of Characters Take a Voyage of Discovery and Self Realization

Release date: September 22, 2020
Running time: 92 minutes
Starring: Judd Nelson, Helena Mattsson, Tom Maden, Kristín Auður Sophusdóttir

Iceland is Best tells the story of Sigga (Sophusdóttir), a 17 year-old girl trying to leave home in Iceland, and make her way to California.  She hopes to leave her home town for the bright, exciting world of Topanga California, where she hopes to be a poet. She begins the journey to the airport, confident in her move to California and accompanied by her three best friends, but along the way she meets people and has experiences that begin to change her perspective. 

Iceland is Best is an indie film through and through.  Sigga and her friends are fun and quirky, with each being different in their own way and contributing to the overall group.  Gunni (Atli Oskar Fjalarsson) is a devoted friend who is the most quirky.  He wears a winter hat the entire time, provides them with transportation, and carries around a canoe he named Topanga in honor of their journey.  Kati (Álfrún Laufeyjardóttir) is a good friend who is sad that Sigga is leaving but trying to be supportive.  And Benni (Mikael Kaaber) is trying to find his own love and confidence, while also trying to be taken seriously.  I loved Sigga's headstrong character, and how convinced she was of her path despite having little experience.  It was enough to make you a dreamer yourself.  And when she meets another wayfarer who seems to have both experience outside of Iceland and poetry, she only becomes more determined in her course.

The writing of Iceland is Best contributes to its overall quirky premise.  The dialogue is stark, blunt, dry, and very funny.  There are some great mixed emotions from Sigga and from those around her.  Her friends are generally supportive, and the older individuals are generally against her leaving.  This leads to some funny and slightly awkward situations where Sigga's will is tested.  And the music of this film is fantastic, with a wonderful soft, electronic style that really contributes to the overall dramatic feel of the film.  However, despite the really great setup for this film, the story goes off the rails after the initially great start.  Once some characters and plot threads are explored, the film goes off on some tangents that detract from the overall simple opening and fun message.  And although the ending does involve some character growth and realizations, it ultimately feels unsatisfying.  However, as the tagline of this film says, sometimes it is the journey that is important and Iceland is Best is definitely a fun journey.

Iceland is Best has a quirky cast of characters, a dry comedic style, and plenty of dreamers in this voyage of discovery and self realization.

Rent it.

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