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  Wild Men Limited Manpower
Year: 2021
Director: Thomas Daneskov
Stars: Rasmus Bjerg, Zaki Youssef, Bjorn Sundquist, Sofie Grabol, Marco Ilso, Jonas Bergen Rahmanzadeh, Hakon T. Nielsen, Tommy Karlsen, Rune Temte, Katinka Evers-Jahnsen, Camilla Frey, Sigmund Hovind, Kathrine Thorborg Johansen
Genre: Comedy, Thriller, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Man, the noble hunter, out in the wilderness with only his bow and arrows and the gift of fire on his side. Man, at one with nature, without the need for civilisation, or indeed anyone but his own company. And, man, is he hungry. Martin (Rasmus Berg) wanted to get back to the forests of his ancestors, so has left Denmark behind, not to mention his wife Anne (Sofie Grabol) and family, to reject the modern world and get back in touch with his inner Viking in the wilderness of Norway. Unfortunately, his plans have gone awry, because he is not very good at hunting, and eating a frog just made him sick, so there's one thing for it: visit the local all-night garage and try to barter with the assistant for some food and drink...

As you may surmise, that does not end well, indeed it ends with Martin getting into a scuffle with the manager and having to steal the comestibles instead, thus attracting the attentions of the police, led by ageing chief Oyvind (Bjorn Sundquist). Something else that has attracted that interest are a trio of hashish dealers who are making their getaway through the mountains when their car is hit by a reindeer and one of them, Musa (Zaki Youssef), believing the other two to be dead, takes the bag of their ill-gotten gains and makes a run for it into the woods. Guess who he meets there? Musa has sustained a serious leg injury, and Martin offers to stitch him up with his amateur first aid skills, when he really needs a proper doctor.

And there a pattern emerges: if these men were not so stubborn and could accept the help that is available, they would find their lives far easier. However, because that would mean rejecting the self-sufficiency they have believed for some time is what existence is all about, then it goes against their pride. Make no mistake, the film thinks these men are idiots, and that is where the black comedy informs the adventure, though this was not about building up the women as longsuffering saints in return, we actually see very little of Anne and the daughters, and other female characters would apparently have got in the way. Therefore, it was the withering glare of the snowbound Norwegian countryside that exposed the men for what they were, deluded fools who can only make things worse before they can make them better.

Berg had been working regularly in television and the occasional movie, but Wild Men, or Vildmaend if you preferred, was a genuine showcase for his comic chops. If this was rarely laugh out loud funny, it did have a wry sensibility that despite the unimpressed take on the characters, did find sympathy for them. These men were sold a lie, that they should have a macho ideal to live up to which in certain areas of Scandinavia will always be connected to the Viking legend, when history has moved on and we have supermarkets now that make life easier, and there's no shame in having a life that eliminates as much hardship as it possibly can. The alternative is not some chest-beating primal scream of masculine independence, but a lot of problems that you could well do without, and a modern society that helps with this is nothing to be embarrassed about. Look at Martin: you can't get much more embarrassing than he is, and he is not exactly living the dream, is he? A lot more thoughtful than it initially appeared, Wild Men was a little too suffused with melancholy, but look at this bunch and no wonder. Music by Ola Flottum.

[Wild Men is in cinemas 6 May 2022 from Blue Finch Film Releasing. Click here to visit the official website.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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