Glasgow Film Festival 2015: Life in a Fishbowl

Film Review by Josh Slater-Williams | 25 Feb 2015
Film title: Life in a Fishbowl
Director: Baldvin Zophoníasson
Starring: Hera Hilmar, Þorsteinn Bachmann, Thor Kristjansson, Sveinn Ólafur Gunnarsson, Ingvar Þórðarson

Icelandic ensemble drama Life in a Fishbowl follows three wildly different people, whose lives (and double lives) intersect in strange ways, exploring the roots of the country’s economic collapse in 2008. There’s a former athlete-turned-international-banker (Kristjansson), a famous author (Bachmann) haunted by addictions and past tragedies, and a debt-ridden young pre-school teacher (Hilmar) moonlighting as a prostitute in order to make ends meet and provide for her daughter.

Director Zophoníasson gives his network narrative ample breathing room, allowing his stars to add nuance to roles that, as written, are too often stereotypes for ‘THEMES’ – it’s never close in quality to the Altman-style it takes hints from. The magnetic Hera Hilmar (best known to UK audiences for TV show Da Vinci’s Demons) is the film’s standout as struggling mother Eik, and her character’s relationship with occasionally parodic writer Mori brings unexpected warmth. It’s a film of dark material with flickers of soulful hope amid its doom and gloom, and it’s these moments that help it transcend its more routine elements. [Josh Slater-Williams]

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