The Ape (12)

The ViewNewcastle Review

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Review byMatthew Pack10/03/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 81 mins

Impressively directed, frequently compelling drama with a strong performance from Olle Sarri, though the film's unremitting bleakness may prove too much for some tastes.

What's it all about?
Directed by Jesper Ganslandt, The Ape (Apan, original language fans) stars Olle Sarri as Krister, a driving instructor who wakes up covered in someone else's blood and tries to go through his day as if nothing has happened. After collecting his car from the garage, he heads for work, where he loses his temper with one of his students before abandoning his job for the day and working on his tennis game instead.

When he returns to the house, we discover where the blood came from, which suddenly puts Krister's actions in a shockingly different light. As he continues through his day (including a mad dash to the hospital, a visit to his mother, encounters with neighbours and a brief sojourn in a church), it becomes clear that Krister is struggling to keep a tide of powerful emotions in check.

The Good
Olle Sarri (who bears a strong resemblance to British actor Tobias Menzies, aka Brutus in Rome) delivers an extremely impressive performance that's surprisingly sympathetic. This is aided by a deliberately minimalistic script that keeps dialogue to the bare minimum and resists the urge to reveal the details of the tragedy, so you're never quite sure if you're watching a cold-hearted monster or man on the verge of total mental collapse.

The camerawork recalls the work of the Dardenne brothers, focussing entirely on Krister (often in tight close-up) and following him around, almost documentary style, as he goes about his business. Similarly, for the majority of the film, Ganslandt refuses to give you any emotional clues, so that when you do get a glimmer of hope or redemption towards the end, it's extremely powerful.

The Bad
That said, the film's approach to the story is decidedly arthouse in nature and the unremitting bleakness of the plot may prove too much for some.

Worth seeing?
In short, The Ape is an impressively directed, superbly acted drama that's a must for fans of Swedish miserablism. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 12/05/2012 09:50

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