In the list of “Most Depressing Movies I’ve Ever Seen”, this one would come a close second, directly behind Downfall. It’s only an hour and a half long, but it seems a lot longer. I left the cinema with a general feeling of my organs sinking through my feet; the world was a terrible place. Who knew what would happen next? We all die anyway. Etc.
The movie opens with a man on a boat, on the phone to his wife, promising her he’ll be home soon. Shortly after this, the boat is hijacked by Somali pirates and the crew is split into two groups, and the rest of the film focuses on the captain, the cook (the man we were introduced to initially) and Jan, another Danish man and a friend of the cook’s.
The pirates keep the crew in horrible living conditions and the captain quickly falls ill. We are introduced to Omar, the negotiator, who will be talking to the shipping company about getting the crew home.
Meanwhile, back in Denmark, the CEO of the company is insisting that he handle all negotiations. “It’s my ship,” he barks at the expert, who advises bringing in an outside party, “It’s my men. It’s my responsibility.”
The negotiations drag on for months, as the crew become more and more desperate and despondent. Every time there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel – whenever we discover that the pirates have lowered their price, or the crew seem to be being treated better – something else suddenly pops up and ruins everything again.
It really gives an idea of how the human spirit can be gradually broken, and how the weight of responsibility can crush someone from the inside out; watching the CEO gradually change from a compassionate, if hardcore, gentleman into a snarky, desperate man is really quite moving.
One thing that I very much liked was the fact that this wasn’t a “happy ever after” movie, with everyone being reunited at the end and things being magically OK. Do they get reunited? Sure, some of them do. But it doesn’t skirt around the huge psychological impact that events like this have on people. It doesn’t assume that people are suddenly “better” because there’s a sliver of hope.
It was a good film, no doubt about it. It did what it set out to achieve. But man, is it depressing! I left the screening room feeling like there was no point in doing anything. Then I came home and ate some chocolate and it was all OK again. But still, depressing Danish cinema is an acquired taste, and this certainly isn’t for everyone.