Edinburgh International Film Festival 2014: Five of the best thrillers

  • The List
  • 10 June 2014
EIFF 2014 - Five of the best thrillers at the Edinburgh International Film Festival

A Most Wanted Man

Intruders, The Cat, Billion Dollar Brain, A Most Wanted Man and The Fat and the Angry among highlights

The Fat and the Angry (Ettor och Nollor)

By now we are all aware that if a series is described as ‘Scandinavian crime’, it will inevitably be accompanied by the word ‘gritty’. This is no Midsomer Murders. After a horrible explosion in an industrial estate, Sebbe (unclear at this stage whether he is fat or angry) is taken in for questioning. Over the next three hours it becomes apparent how the bloody explosion is linked to one of the biggest ever credit card scams. Based on true events, this Swedish miniseries sees Breaking Bad director Johan Renck investigate the more troubled side of the snowy welfare state.
Cineworld, Mon 23 & Fri 27 June.


The IMDB genre descriptions of this film hint at the tonal mash-up: Comedy, Mystery, Thriller. It appears to be a Hollywood style cabin in the woods horror mixed with a Korean caper involving intrusive oddball characters. And initial reviews suggest that the pairing of modes kind of works, as terror is undercut with humour and madcap moments punctured by fear. Noh Young-seok’s first film, Daytime Drinking, a comedy about a young man suffering from a break-up and a hangover, was well received so it will be interesting to see how his genre defying next film does.
Cineworld, Sat 21 June; Cameo, Sat 22 June.

A Most Wanted Man

Of course, everyone wants Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last movies to be good. For some critics, however, the film is just too slow: the Guardian described the John le Carré adaptation as ‘slightly going through the motions’, Variety countered that, arguing that the thrills come from ‘the way le Carré’s bleak, unyielding worldview seeps into your nervous system’. but critical opinion on Hoffman is pretty much summed up by the LA Times’ ‘brilliant’.
Cineworld, Sat 22 & Sun 28 June.

The Cat

A bank robbery deliberately goes wrong, turning into a hostage situation. This film leads the celebration of Dominik Graf, a director who has been overlooked outside his home country because of his TV focus. He achieved early big screen success with this film, sometimes called the best ever German crime film. Mixing a love triangle with criminal intrigue, it focuses on a villainous mastermind who is watching the police and can predict their every move.
Filmhouse, Sat 21 June.

Billion Dollar Brain

The third film in the Harry Palmer spy series left the original audiences rather baffled with its rapid-fire yet illogical plot. Michael Caine’s Harry seems immobilised by the technological world around him and John McGrath’s script has the Russian spies appear as something other than blandly evil. The Cold War era might have frowned on such a viewpoint (in 1967 the outraged New York Times’ reviewer called it ‘grotesque and incredible’) but it is worth revisiting, particularly because the closing scene is a parody of the battle on the ice in Sergei Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky.
Filmhouse, Thu 26 June.

Intruders - trailer

A Most Wanted Man - Official Trailer

Billion Dollar Brain - Trailer


  • 3 stars
  • 2011
  • US / UK / Spain
  • 1h 40min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
  • Written by: Nicolás Casariego, Jaime Marques
  • Cast: Clive Owen, Carice van Houten, Daniel Brühl, Pilar López de Ayala, Ella Purnell
  • UK release: 27 January 2012

A young boy finds his worst nightmares bursting into the real world as a hooded demon called HollowFace comes sweeping out of the shadows. Cleverly constructed and suspenseful but fades when pitted against superior genre fare like The Orphanage and Pan's Labyrinth.

Billion Dollar Brain

  • 1967
  • UK
  • 1h 51min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Ken Russell
  • Written by: Len Deighton/John McGrath
  • Cast: Michael Caine, Karl Malden, Ed Begley

In his loose adaptation of Len Deighton's spy thriller, McGrath and maverick directorial talent Ken Russell deliver a sprawling OTT adventure that some audiences found baffling at the time but has since attracted a cult following. Russell's visual flair is well to the fore, but he also allows the conventions of the cinema…

A Most Wanted Man

  • 4 stars
  • 2014
  • Germany / US / UK
  • 2h 1min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Anton Corbijn
  • Cast: Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Willem Dafoe, Daniel Brühl, Nina Hoss
  • UK release: 12 September 2014

A Chechen Muslim illegally immigrates to Hamburg, where he gets caught in the international war on terror. Featuring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The Cat (Die Katze)

  • 1988
  • Germany
  • 1h 58min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Dominik Graf
  • Written by: Uwe Erichsen/Christoph Fromm
  • Cast: Götz George, Gudrun Landgrebe, Joachim Kemmer

The most riveting thriller in the history of German cinema, this diabolically smart, sexy and witty bank-heist picture recounts a robbery purposefully escalated into a full-blown hostage crisis to collect a handsome ransom. Overseeing the proceedings from a futuristic high-rise hotel across the street, a criminal…

The Fat and the Angry (Ettor och Nollor)

  • 2014
  • Sweden
  • 3h 6min
  • Cast: Jonathan Andersson, Liv Mjönes, Gustaf Skarsgård

Crime, Gothenburg style. Based on actual events, this gritty Nordic thriller is a violent tale of fraud, corruption, deception, racism and murder, laced with scathing social comment and black humour, and exposing the dark side of Sweden's second largest city. Having helmed such high end American shows as The Walking Dead…