Jackpot (4 stars)


Second Jo Nesbo adaptation once again gleefully mixes comedy and gory violence

The Jo Nesbo phenomenon shifted from publishing to cinema with the unexpected box-office and critical success of this year’s art-crime drama Headhunters. Following quickly on its heels, director Magnus Martens has adapted an original story by Nesbo to create a blackly comic thriller that plays effectively in the cheerfully morbid style of the Coen BrothersFargo.

Despite his attractive girlfriend Gina (Marie Blokhus), Oscar Svendson (Kyrre Hellum) seems doomed to a downtrodden existence in a Christmas tree factory populated by rehabilitating ex-cons. They bully him remorselessly, and threaten him with a nail-gun, but the tables are turned when Oscar’s workmates gather round at his flat to watch a football match, and discover that their joint syndicate have won the pools. Amicably splitting the loot is not on the cards, and soon the dishonor amongst thieves leads to sudden death, followed by protracted efforts to hide the bodies.

Jackpot’s central conceit comes wrapped in a Usual Suspects-style framing story, in which deadpan cop Solor (Henrik Mestad) surveys the spectacular fallout of the jackpot win, namely an out-of-town sex-shop filled with eight corpses, under a bloody pile of which Oscar is found. Solor takes Oscar in for interrogation, and Jackpot’s fractured narrative follows Oscar’s version of what happened in parallel with Solor’s investigation.

While lacking the glamour of Headhunters, Jackpot doubles the measures of comedy and violence, with a squirm-inducing emphasis on the incompetent ways in which the criminals attempt (unsuccessfully) to dismember each other’s corpses. Martens directs at a brisk clip, helped by strong character work from Hellum and particularly Mestad, whose dapper, incredulous policeman deserves his own TV series. While not a game-changer, Jackpot is the kind of sprightly low-budget import which is likely to reward fans of the Nordic crime genre.

Selected release from Fri 10 Aug.

Jackpot: Trailer

Jackpot (Arme Riddere)

  • 4 stars
  • 2011
  • Norway
  • 1h 25min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Magnus Martens
  • Cast: Kyrre Hellum, Henrik Mestad, Marie Blokhus, Mads Ousdal, Andreas Cappelen, Arthur Berning, Lena Kristin Ellingsen, Jan Grønli, Fridtjov Såheim, Peter Andersson

Black comedy in which a syndicate of workers at a Norwegian artificial Christmas tree factory win big on the pools leading to friendships breaking down and violent characters surface. Not a game-changer, but still a sprightly low-budget film that will appeal to fans of the Nordic crime genre.

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