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article imageReview: ‘The Wave’ drops the disaster movie into international waters Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Mar 6, 2016 in Entertainment
‘The Wave’ is a Norwegian disaster movie based on a real-life threat to a picturesque tourist village that exists at the mercy of an unstable mountainside.
Hollywood disaster movies are a dime a dozen. As some impending doom c/o Mother Nature threatens a city, country or the human race, a person or group attempts to find a way to avert total annihilation. In addition, there is generally a parent and/or spouse — usually a father and/or husband — who launches a seemingly impossible rescue attempt to save his family. Big effects and wild imaginations make these thrillers a spectacle of the screen, but they must still find a balance between the visual and the narrative. Most recently, Norwegians take on this genre in The Wave.
Geiranger village sits on the banks of a fjord and at the foot of Åkerneset Mountain, making it a very popular tourist attraction. However, Åkerneset is one of 300 unstable moutainsides in Norway and is monitored carefully by local geologists as it’s not a matter of if it will fall and cause a devastating tsunami, but when. Kristian (Kristoffer Joner) has been one of the peak’s guardians for many years; however, he’s accepted a job in the city where he and his family are moving. Except on the day of their departure, he senses something is wrong. The substrata is shifting and Kristian is certain the moment they’ve dreaded has arrived, though everyone is hesitant to create panic at the peak of tourist season. Suddenly the rockslide occurs and Geiranger has just 10 minutes to evacuate before everything is swept away by an 80-foot wave. As everyone tries to escape Kristian and his daughter, Julia (Edith Haagenrud-Sande), become separated from his wife, Idun (Ane Dahl Torp), and son, Sondre (Jonas Hoff Oftebro), forcing each parent to fend for themselves.
The first 40 minutes of the movie is a set up for the next hour. Kristian is shown with this family who have tolerated his dedication and borderline obsession with the mountain, but draw the line once he’s worked his last day and is still examining charts instead of packing. His wife understandably takes further issue when he leaves the kids alone for what was supposed to be a few minutes and turns into several hours. But Kristian’s uneasiness is fuelling the narrative apprehension as anticipation builds for the inevitable disaster. The movie also opens with news reports of two previous, fatal rockslides, foreshadowing what’s to come.
The final hour portrays the catastrophe and its aftermath. As everyone sets their watches for 10 minutes, there’s the typical panic and confusion that eventually leads to a lot of running. From their respective locations, Kristian and Idun try to save as many people as possible while ensuring the safety of their children. But in spite of awaiting the collapse, no one seems especially prepared to respond when disaster actually strikes. Following the tidal wave, Kristian begins the search for the other half of his family while their struggle to survive continues.
The film follows the basic disaster movie formula, though it’s not as exaggerated as the Hollywood versions. Basing the script on an actual threat and earlier occurrence gives it a greater sense of realism; however, they still make some silly choices under pressure. Joner is an excellent leading man reminiscent of Tom Cruise or Matt Damon in similar roles. Meanwhile, Torp is equally capable playing the female lead who is forced to make some difficult decisions. The conclusion is unsurprisingly predictable — even though it comes very close to going against convention.
Director: Roar Uthaug
Starring: Kristoffer Joner, Ane Dahl Torp and Thomas Bo Larsen
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