The Wave

The fact that this disaster film is Norwegian might give you some kind of idea that it will be fundamentally different in some crucial way, and it is, in one way, but for the most part you just sit there like “Oh, it’s pretty much just a straight-up disaster film.” Which is fine, we can always use a disaster film, one just, you know, might have hoped for something a bit different, or some new approach. By the way, this is streaming on Netflix in the States right now.

The whole thing is set up quite well. The dad works for the local geological survey, and is a few days away from quitting to go work in the city. His family is at home, packing up for the move. The town in question is right at the most inward point of a fjord, and the movie does a good job of explaining how a cliff collapse would create a wave that, funneled in by the sides of the fjord, would sink the town.

In fact, the whole setup to the disaster is handled quite well, and is unfortunately a bit better than the disaster and aftermath. The psychological dynamics of the Dad and the work team he is leaving are nicely complex, with hints that he can’t give up the job and whiffs that he might be imagining it all just to give himself some relevance on the way out [which is an interesting premise for another movie]. There are nice build-ups to the big disaster, my favorite that they have these wires that are strung through the cliff walls, and if one of them separates, that means they have a growing crack. Then a team goes up there and finds, oh gosh, there is a rather major crack.

But then the disaster happens, and things go a bit ho-hum. The movie has split up Mom and one kid, and Dad and the other kid, so it becomes a story of getting into town and rescuing mom and getting to higher ground. On the one hand, it’s always nice to have shaded characters and for the film not to resort to ridiculous feats to appeal to the multiplexes. On the other, umm, maybe up the awesomeness just a touch? Things proceed in a fairly straightforward, no-muss manner, which is admirable and all… but then, so is eating Grape Nuts—don’t make them enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, and you won’t have wasted your time watching, but when you have a disaster movie and the setup is better than the disaster and its aftermath… you know what I’m saying.

Oh, and by the way, it’s Norwegian, and yet there is no appearance by A-ha. Right?


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