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Saturday, April 20th

Upstairs at 8:30 PM

Norwegian Dream
Norwegian Dream - Trailer
Norwegian Dream
(2024, 97 min)

Country: Norway, Poland, Germany

Director: Leiv Igor Devold

Studio: Dark Star Pictures

Language: English


In a remote costal area of Norway, young Polish immigrant Robert (Hubert Milkowski), works at a fish factory to support his mother back home. When Robert meets the bold, uninhibited Ivar (Karl Bekele Steinland), the adopted son of the factory owner, he develops an immediate bond. Even though Robert is closeted, he begins a romantic relationship with Ivar. When a newly formed union at the factory goes on strike for workers' rights and better wages, the budding relationship between the two young men is pushed to the breaking point. This heartfelt, gorgeously crafted, award-winning coming-of-age romance confronts themes of inequality, racism and homophobia while never losing sight of the possibility of hope and a better life


Maintaining a sharp sense of perspective, this drama centres on a young migrant worker trying to build a new life. But this is about more than simply earning cash to send back home. Polish director Leiv Igor David takes an earthy, almost documentary-style approach, observing scenes through the protagonist's eyes as he opens up to his own truth. It's a familiar story, but carries a strong emotional kick.

Leaving Poland, 19-year-old Robert (Milkowski) starts a job in a fishery in Norway, with colleague Ivar (Steinland) mentoring him on the job. There are plenty of laddish Polish guys to socialise with, although Robert feels uncomfortable with their casual racism and homophobia about Ivar's colourful drag performances at a local bar. Robert reaches out, but Ivar doubts he's any different. Eventually, Robert opens up about his closeted sexuality, and they discover a mutual attraction. Then Robert's mother Maria (Torhan) arrives, pushing him to earn more to pay off her debts. And her presence causes problems.

Various issues swirl through the story, including how the fishery is breaking employment law in the way it treats foreign workers. As they vote to join a union, it's unsurprising that everyone has their guard up. And Robert's mother not only brings bad news, she jeopardises his living situation. At the centre, with so many obstacles in their way, Robert and Ivar's relationship never has a chance to develop smoothly. Instead, it plays out with darkly honest uncertainty.

Milkowski has terrific screen presence as a young man who is escaping violent bigotry back home and is still afraid of his shadow. His wariness remains even as he begins to feel safe with Ivar, who is played with open-handed charm by the charismatic Steinland. The actors create a nicely jagged tenderness between them, as Robert and Ivar provoke each other while finding a safe space together. Side roles are nicely played to add texture, even if these people remain somewhat sketchy.

There isn't much that's original about this story, but it captures a lovely sense of these young men as they navigate the issues in their lives. And the multi-lingual, multi-ethnic cast adds strong narrative textures and a vivid sense of youthful physicality. While it's sometimes frustrating that the employment drama leaves the romantic story feeling somewhat undercooked, the real-life pressures are very easy to identify with as they threaten each of these characters in distinct ways.

-- Reviewed By Rich Cline, Shadows On the Wall (http://www.shadowsonthewall.co.uk/)