January 2006

Brutal Incasso

Brutal Incasso poster Jim (Claus Lund) and Michael (Kim Sønderholm) are a pair of enforcers for LC (Allan Hotchkiss), a loan shark, and – it has to be said – they’re not the most competent gangsters in the world. On top of that, Michael is suffering one or two relationship problems.

It’s probably not entirely surprising, therefore, that they’re thinking about a change of career.

Things come to a head when a slightly distracted Michael accidentally kills a client. LC still wants the money he’s owed and Jim and Michael suddenly find themselves in a lot of trouble…

Debt collecting the Danish way
I really enjoyed Brutal Incasso. It’s not the deepest, or the most original story every written, but the film takes a straightforward idea and runs with it, confidently and very entertainingly, for an hour and a half.

The filmmakers have clearly been influenced by Quentin Tarantino – and they explicitly pay homage to both Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs – in their seeking to find humour in the mundanities of the lives of minor criminals.

Brutal Incasso is packed with moments – both visual and verbal - that had me laughing out loud. The characters are suitably rounded and brought to life well enough that you are able to believe in them enough to be able to see the comedy in their predicament.

JC and his henchman
But (and we’re back to the Tarantino influence here) this is not just a comedy – the plot also attempts to inject a level of pathos into the proceedings. And successfully so - not only do Claus Lund and Kim Sønderholm give us believable characters, but they also manage to make Jim and Michael characters you can care about.

Much of the drama of the film depends on the relationship between the two men. These two characters have known each other since school and have clearly been through a lot together. And it’s apparent that their mutual loyalty has been a significant part of their survival so far.

So when the chips are down, and Jim starts to feel that his loyalty to Michael is putting both himself and his girlfriend at risk, and when he’s offered an easy way out, he finds himself on the horns of a genuine dilemma.

The girlfriends
This is where the strength of the acting really pays off. We can see exactly what Jim is going through, and can empathise with him, without his saying a word. In fact, the acting throughout is never less than solid, giving the film the essential air of realism that holds the story together.

It is very difficult to strike a balance between drama and comedy – all too often, the two sides conflict with rather than complement each other and you end up with a film that is neither dramatic nor funny.

However, with Brutal Incasso Jonas Kvist Jensen, Claus Lund and Kim Sønderholm do strike this balance very successfully, and deliver a dark, funny and genuinely entertaining film which effectively weaves together all the mundanity, idiocy, drama, violence and humour that surrounds the lives of two small time gangsters.

Broken

Broken A gunshot sounds and Bonnie (Samantha Jane Polay) awakens from her nightmare. Obviously shaken, she heads to the kitchen for a carton of milk where she is startled by a seated stranger (Paul Gordon).

Then, in a blur of motion, she is knocked unconscious by a second stranger.

Cue credits.

The main part of the film takes place in a single location – an abandoned hospital – where Bonnie is confronted by the stranger and his silent henchmen. Although she doesn’t know the stranger, he clearly knows her…

Broken doesn’t have a great deal of plot – essentially just a set-up, a confrontation and a conclusion – but this really isn’t what the film is about. This film is an exercise in style – and a very successful one at that.

Visually, it’s fantastic, with production values as high – if not higher – than anything you will see in more mainstream films.

The washed out cinematography is reminiscent – in some ways – of Sin City, with the odd flash of colour standing out against a near monochrome background. The acting is consistently impressive – even though many of the actors have no lines, relying on their movements, costumes and make-up to underline very effectively the nature of their characters.

But it’s in the visual effects and the action sequence that the film really does deliver. The effects, throughout, are incredible and it’s difficult to believe that all this was achieved with only $8,000 – every last cent has clearly made its presence felt

And this, combined with the very tight editing of the film means that when the action gets going, it’s spectacular.

And finally, there’s the soundtrack, which – when combined with the deliberate dinginess of the set design - provides a suitably ominous air of menace throughout.

The DVD is packed with extras (three hours of them) which, along with the film’s website, suggest there is a lot more story that didn’t make it into the final film. However, as this film was made primarily to demonstrate the considerable talents of the creative team behind it, I sincerely hope that someone gives them the budget to turn this film into a full length feature.

With Broken, writer/director/producer team Alex Ferrari and Jorge Flores Rodriguez have made a very stylish and visually stunning thriller that leaves you wanting much, much more.