101 Reykjavik is a slacker tale from the capital of Iceland. Hlynur, the 30 year old living with his mother, doesn’t do much other than live off the dole, watch porn on Satellite and get drunk in his local pub. His is the classic case of a total lack of ambition. Hlynur hates rural Iceland, preferring to stay in the closed and cluttered house of his mother.
The film explores various aspects of the theme of closeness, from the poles of emotional closeness and claustrophobia. From the bathtub (complete with Ikea shower curtain!) that, with the drop of a lid converts into a bench at the kitchen table, to the cramped throngs at the local dance halls, the feeling of confinement is evident throughout the film. This is contrasted by the scenes in rural Iceland, vast sweeping vistas of mountainous peaks and glaciers. Hlynur is always trying to get space around him, all while self-defeatingly trying to stay in the same place.
I’m always interested in the way different countries present themselves, and this definitely feels like a honest, non-exoticized version of life in Iceland. The whole notion of only being on the small island because you were born there leads to the double foreignness of the immigrant – an outsider who also chooses to be in Iceland. Hlynur must confront with a number of machinations upon the theme of Oedipus, and I don’t wish to give any of the complexity away. Suffice it to say, Hlynur must confront his obligations in a typical way, but the way he is taught this differs greatly from the Lion King version of the slacker-has-to-grow-up shtick. An interesting and different cinema, quite enjoyable.