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  Jackpot Winning
Year: 2011
Director: Magnus Martens
Stars: Kyrre Hellum, Mads Ousdal, Henrik Mestad, Arthur Berning, Andreas Cappelen, Lena Kristin Ellingsen, Fridtjov Såheim, Peter Anderssen, Jan Grønli, Marie Blokhus, Anne Marie Ottersen, Fredrik Petersson, Isidor Alcaide Backlund
Genre: Comedy, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Oscar Svendson (Kyrre Hellum) is in hot water, but being found in a strip club where everyone else has been murdered except him lying under a dead stripper holding a shotgun will do that to a person. Obviously the police have been called, and it was they who found him, specifically the detective in charge, Solør (Henrik Mestad), who nearly shot Oscar because he thinks he's somehow responsible and was trying to get away. The young man is brought in, and sat in an interview room where Solør grills him, gradually piecing together what has happened over the past few days...

It's not a straightforward tale, that's for sure, but those are the kinds of twists you might expect from thriller writer Jo Nesbo, one of a number of Scandinavian crime writers whose paperbacks began flying off the shelves in the wake of Steig Larsson's posthumous success. He didn't write the screenplay, it was based on one of his manuscripts by director Magnus Martens, but nevertheless the interest in this after the popularity of the previous adaptation of one of his works in Headhunters guaranteed there was an audience ready and waiting for Jackpot. Not all of them were pleased with what they watched, however.

The fact was this remained more of a daffy caper which happened to feature lots of bloodshed and general mayhem and could be mistaken for grit and grime but actually took place in some criminal fairyland where schemes spiral out of control and our protagonist is stuck in the middle of them, though still contrived to be wrapped up in under an hour and a half, all neat and tied with a bow. That didn't mean that Jackpot was too uninspired and mean-minded to be enjoyable, it just meant it perhaps didn't carry the heft or the ingenuity of Headhunters, and taken on its own terms it could be very funny and work up a degree of tension as befitting its author, even if it looked from some angles like a Norwegian version of the Coen Brothers' Fargo.

Without the emotional kick, and with the folksy Marge replaced by a decidedly more eccentric detective in Solør who has his own oddball methods of drawing out the truth of Oscar's story. It's interesting that we are never really in any doubt - unlike the cop - that Oscar is telling the truth, even if the ending which pulls up rather too hastily suggests he might have been elaborating more than he was letting on, but he's a trustworthy sort and the fact we see his narrative acted out as if it were true helps to bolster his case. He works in a rehabilitation centre for ex-cons where they manufacture miniature Christmas trees (this is set in December) and has gotten to know three of his colleagues quite well.

Oscar does have a criminal record, but nothing major unlike the other three who persuade him to place a "sure thing" bet on the football pools. He does so with a tweak prompted by barmaid Trine (Lena Kristin Ellingsen), which means instead of not winning nearly two million krone they really do win nearly two million krone. Thus begins Oscar's sorry journey to the strip club massacre and custody as according to him there is no honour among thieves and his friends set about bumping each other off in pursuit of being the sole ticket holder, and Oscar is not exempt from threat. With comedy setpieces such as where he is coaxed into helping two of them dispose of the body of the other one, this veers close to that form of eighties horror humour they used to call splatstick - watch for the mileage Martens gets out of the flying head - and if you're in the mood for how absurd the scheming becomes it can be very funny. But mostly this was rather slight, amusing while it's on, unlikely to stay in the mind for long. Music by Magnus Beite.

Aka: Arme Riddere
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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