Film Review : The Wave (Bølgen)

Norway’s first disaster movie – indeed possibly Scandinavia’s first disaster movie takes on a foreboding warning of a real life issue that is a certainty to happen. By taking itself seriously and not going for camp, cheap thrills, The Wave is a great success and a very welcome addition to the disaster movie genre.

Released : 2015

Runtime : 105 minutes

thewave1

I don’t think you’re high enough!

Premise

A premonition of what could happen when the next rock slide and resulting tsunami  on the Geiranger Fjord would look like.

The Disasters Faced

A rock slide, earthquake, tsunami, bad driving, idiots freaking out and drowning others, panic, fear and being a bit nice to someone.

The Execution

Although Norway has no disaster movie heritage, it certainly knows how to take the formula from Hollywood and apply it to a beautiful setting. Geiranger is a beautiful place and the film could work initially as a tourist board video as we watch a refreshingly happy family of four gearing up for a move. Our lead Kristian works on surveying the mountain and needs to get away as he has become obsessed over its next collapse and its real world connections to its real and tragic collapse gives the film extra weight. However, in a similar way to The Impossible, this film decides to focus on a family plight rather than mass scale destruction and aside from the fantastic wave sequence, the film deals with part flooded sets and claustrophobic spaces – knowing aside from its major set piece it can’t compete with a mass American budget. It’s the right move as it focuses on character and family pays off despite some cliché tropes.

thewave2

This isn’t the car wash I had in mind!

The Effects

The wave itself is really well done and has huge scale to it. The ensuing damage and carnage is well done – particularly the in-car sequence and the hotel basement sequences. In fact, the flooded sets in general are well done and the polish shows off. Elsewhere the mountains need no effects – they are a stunning backdrop for disaster.

Why It’s Worth Watching

The Wave (Bølgen) takes itself seriously enough without going over the top. Most of the supporting cast will not survive and you get the impression the main family will be untouchable from the start so once you’re happy with that you’ll sit and enjoy the ride. There’s some big clichés involved if you like that kind of thing – but essentially this is a really tightly made, excellently acted and delightful movie. I especially loved that everyone knew they had 10 minutes to escape the wave to higher ground and the whole build up segment is taut and tense. Often no one knows a wave is coming and this scenario is really fascinating.

Drinking Game

Each time the son, Sondre, does something that essentially means someone else will be hurt or killed. In one of the slightly black comedy thoughts I had during the film was how many people are involved in trying to save the son that end up not surviving as a result. Being nice is clearly not rewarded in this film!

Favourite Character

I don’t think I have a favourite character so I’m going to nominate the family as a unit. They are very believable as a foursome and seem really natural with each other. Also props for no broken homes for plot sake!

thewave3

These three will spent the rest of the film battling the water and each other

Weirdest Moment

It’s not a weird moment specifically but to me the Norwegian for shit sounds like the English for Fuck even though it doesn’t. I got it in my head early on and now its stuck. Sorry all!

Random Trivia

Maybe because its such a real threat, statistics show that almost 1 in 6 Norwegians went to see the film which for a theatre release is something quite amazing!

Conclusion

A fantastic piece of cinema. I have only seen the subtitled version but I highly recommend it for disaster movie fans. There are characters to cheer on, special effects, tense moments of fear and clever moments throughout. One of the best disaster movies of the last few years.

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