Part Fantasy. Part Mystery. All Pulp!
Writer/director, David Noel Bourke has a real talent for capturing the underside of Danish society. I have no idea as to the accuracy of his portrayal of the minor criminals that populate this film, but it certainly all feels sleazily realistic.
No Right Turn centres on four main characters. Johnny (Tao Hildebrand) is a drug-addled drug dealer full of empty plans and married to Nina (Laura Bach), a former prostitute who Johnny believes has abandoned her previous profession for him. Teddy (Lars Lippert) is a client of both Johnny and Nina.
Into all of this steps Monella (Sira Stampe), a painfully shy artist with whom Nina develops a friendship. As the relationship between the two women progresses, Nina eventually tells Monella of her plans to escape Johnnys seedy world – with his money – and asks Monella for her help
So far we have all the tropes for a familiar story of betrayal and revenge. But a number of things set this film apart from the run-of-the mill crime thriller, the first one being the atmosphere of the film. Although this is an independent film and not one that is flush with cash, Bourke manages to achieve a great deal with the budget that he has – so much so that the film is more than capable of holding its own in comparison to bigger budgeted films within the genre.
The production values are remarkably high throughout, and the city in which most of the action takes place is a beautifully evoked neon-lit sleazefest of drugs, dive-bars and the low-lives that inhabit them. A selection of very well chosen locations are superbly brought to life by both the cinematography and a soundtrack that really does set the tone for the on screen events.
Not content, however, to remain a straightforward crime story, the film also includes a remarkably well integrated fantasy element. Close to the city is a snow-filled landscape which is not only home to Monella but which also provides a striking contrast to the grim reality of the city.
Ultimately, though, this is a film that depends on the performances of the cast for its success and here, all four of the main characters do a sterling job. This is especially true of Laura Bach and Sira Stampe whose characters relationship provides most of the direction for the plot. The two actresses really do bring both Nina and Monella to life in a manner that is engaging, consistent and utterly believable.
It helps, of course, that the characters are well rounded and – if not always sympathetic – interesting enough that you want to know how things will pan out for them. This is especially true of Johnny who really is one of lifes failures, even if he doesnt realise it. And it does say a lot for the strength of the script that even when faced with someone as unpleasant as this, I still found myself fascinated by his story.
At the end of the day, No Right Turn is a fairy tale masquerading as a crime thriller. The film incorporates familiar themes of innocence and corruption, and guilt and redemption but, by placing these themes into a gritty modern setting, manages to become something utterly unique.
The film has yet to start its festival run but when it does, I heartily recommend that you check it out.