Okay, this is a bit of a cheat because it’s not really a genre movie. But you and I don’t limit ourselves to genre, do we? Our horizons are a bit broader than any one genre, I believe. With that in mind, I invite you to consider a new movie from Norway (and Netflix) called The Trip. (In Norway, its name is I Onder Dager, which is a clue. That means approximately “…or For Worse.” You should recognize that half a quote.) It fits in with our types of movie for several reasons: one, that it co-stars Noomi Rapace, who’s been in a number of genre and near-genre movies, like the steampunk Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows from director Guy Ritchie; The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish version) movie series and Millennium TV Series based on it; and Prometheus and Alien: Covenant from director Ridley Scott. Secondly, it plays out a lot like a Guy Ritchie film with an assist from Quentin Tarantino (though I must confess it’s a bit uneven in the humour department; Ritchie’s humour is a lot more overt). Since you, like me, see movies from several genres, I’m sure you’ve seen not only the Sherlock Holmes movie referenced above, but also Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, and Rock and Rolla at least from Ritchie’s oeuvre. And as diehard Tarantino fans, you’ve seen From Dusk Till Dawn, Kill Bill vols. 1 & 2, Reservoir Dogs, etc. (No, Quentin didn’t direct Dusk Till Dawn, that was Robert Rodriguez—almost a Tarantino clone—but he was in it as an actor.)
Anyway, The Trip was directed by Tommy Wirtola, who’s definitely a genre guy: he directed What Happened to Monday, and wrote both Dead Snow and Dead Snow 2—you know, the Nazi zombies. Can’t get a whole lot more genre than Nazi zombies, can you?
It’s a film about a couple whose marriage is breaking down—or broken; the poster gives it away a bit (Figure 1). (Look at the Featured Image—the two have a “rip” between them.) As you can see from Figure 1, he’s got a hammer and she’s got a bloody knife. It appears this movie’s going to be even more violent than The War of the Roses; you remember it—Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner; that was a fun one, directed by Danny DeVito, who co-starred with the “warring” couple. This couple is Lisa (Rapace) and Lars (Aksel Hennie), who are both involved in media—she’s an actress who’s appeared in a few memorable commercials; he is a director who’s doing a soap opera… about a couple undergoing marital problems (Figure 2). (Foreshadowing, anyone?)
Between scenes, Lars tells his actress friend that Lisa and he have had some problems, but they’ve been working it out. In fact, she’s planning a long solo hike in the woods, though Lars has told her it’s dangerous! On the way to visit his dad in the retirement centre, Lars is on the phone to someone and tells him to be there at noon as arranged, with the equipment. No, they won’t be taking the boat out, so be there as planned. In the retirement home, talking to his dad (who built the cabin), Lars again tells him—interrupting him the same way he interrupted the actress—that Lisa is planning a solo hike in the woods, which is dangerous! Lars even interrupts a news bulletin about 3 escaped and dangerous prisoners (Figure 3).
Lisa, meanwhile, is talking to a friend at her and Lars’s house over coffee, telling her that Lars has talked her into learning how to shoot a shotgun—even though, as her friend knows, she hates guns! They’ll be going hunting together. Lars stops at a hardware store on the way home and buys a hammer, a hacksaw, two rolls of duct tape, and two coils of rope. When he gets home, he quickly hides the bag in the trunk of the car under the spare tire. As he closes the trunk, Lisa’s friend leaves, wishing him “Happy hunting!” He looks at her, puzzled. Lisa comes out and they leave for the cabin in the woods (by the fjord). (I was surprised to see—since I’ve never seen a fjord in real life—that there aren’t real beaches along most of the fjord. It’s an abrupt edge at or above the water.)
On the way, they argue a bit—money seems to be an issue—and eventually decide to have a nice trip together. The alarm on the cabin doesn’t work, but they go in anyway. As she enters, she calls out (in English), “Honey, I’m home!” and “Home, Sweet Home” to Lars (also in English.) As they unpack and explore the cabin, the radio produces a Norse version of Jeannie C. Riley’s “Harper Valley PTA” song. (It’s Inger Lise Rypdal, singing “Fru Johnson” [Mrs. Johnson], whose final lyrics translate to “I heard my mother kill “The Authority for High Morality.” Isn’t that cute?) Lars looks at his (or his dad’s) collection of shotguns in the basement; Lisa puts the food away and takes a long look at the knife rack, while Lars mows the lawn. Domesticity with a twist.
While preparing dinner they argue about the cooking. “What kind of steak is this?” (They’re big steaks, too.) ”New York Strip. Don’t cut those mushrooms that thick,” and they argue over turning the burner down and putting the steaks on. Over dinner, outdoors, they’re more or less polite to each other, except that when he tells her “I had to tell Arvid at the store how to cut the steak, with a drawing,” she says “It’s fascinating how much time you [waste] on…” and he interrupts with “Having a good meal?” So their cordiality is very forced. Later, over a game of Scrabble, Lisa wants to use the word “Gurka,” which means cucumber, and get 54 points (“54 points, bitch,” she says, because the “a” hits a triple-word-point square), but Lars says “No! That’s a Swedish word and this is a Norwegian game. The word is ‘agurk’ in Norwegian, so no triple word score.” (Figure 5) They argue, but he eventually wins out and she goes to bed. “We’ll play more tomorrow,” she says.
The next day, Lars is wandering around the yard gathering big chunks of rock, while Lisa lies in the hammock reading the script for her audition on Tuesday. He puts the bag of rocks in the boat, then goes to the car for his bag of tools, finding the bag on top of the spare tire, instead of under. He puts the tools in the basement, then heads up to the kitchen carrying the hammer. He stops to get a drink of gin, schnapps or vodka (it’s clear, that’s all I can tell) to fortify his nerve. While he’s doing that, Lisa calls him from the other room: “Lars, can you come here and help me?” It appears things are developing along the “war of the roses” front. And this is where I must leave you; if I go any farther with this, I’ll be giving away big plot points.
I think this film, while having more subtle humour than a Ritchie film, might even improve on a second or third viewing, though there are some extremely dark (Tarantino-esque) scenes. Although it has only about a 3.7 out of 5 audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I liked it and thought I’d call it to your attention. Let me know what you think.
Comments? You can comment here or on Facebook, or even by email (stevefah at hotmail dot com). All comments are welcome! (Just be polite, please.) My opinion is, as always, my own, and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of Amazing Stories or its owner, editor, publisher or other columnists. See you next time!