Tag Archives: Hans Petter Moland

Horse Thief

Out Stealing Horses

by Hope Madden

So much for going Hollywood.

Prolific Norwegian filmmaker Hans Petter Moland follows up his first foray into blockbuster territory—a Liam Neeson-fronted English language remake of his own vengeance thriller Cold Pursuit—with the decidedly non-blockbuster, specifically Norwegian drama Out Stealing Horses.

This pensive and utterly gorgeous film sifts through time to land on the moment that irreversibly alters the course of a life.

In this case, it’s Trond’s life. It’s winter of ‘99—almost the millennium—and the aging Trond (Stellan Skarsgård) is just settling into hermithood. Though he’s been in Sweden for years, the death of his wife in a car accident (he was at the wheel) convinced him to cross the river back to his childhood home of Norway to sit quietly and think.

And then he meets his neighbor, who inadvertently stirs up memories and gives Trond’s meditation new direction.

Moland adapts Petterson’s beloved novel, streamlining until what’s left is an extremely intimate tale only mildly hampered by the tiresome flashback structure. Moland only hints at the novel’s historical context, instead developing a sense of fearful awe in the face of life, the small moments that determine an individual’s trajectory, and the insistent longing to imagine what could have been.

The technical mastery at work in this film—from sound design to lighting, from Rasmus Videbæk’s gorgeous cinematography to Kaspar Kaee’s unerring score—adds power to Moland’s every meditative moment. In perfect harmony with the team, Moland effortlessly evokes the senses throughout this sometimes Malick-esque photo album of the summer that everything changed.

Moland and team create the glimmering, lush and gorgeous memories Trond relives—too gorgeous to be exact, but exactly as gorgeous as needed to be memory.

Out Stealing Horses can’t quite make the current-day footage ache or resonate quite so clearly. The events adult Trond deals with feel artificial, a forced structure. But that doesn’t rob the film of its magic.

Best Served Cold

Cold Pursuit

by Hope Madden

Liam Neeson, everybody.

If we’d ever wondered what fueled Neeson’s on-screen obsession with a character who can turn from perfectly ordinary, even good guy to blindly bloodthirsty avenging devil, now we know. His movies were more fun before, weren’t they?

In Cold Pursuit, Neeson’s ninth riff on the theme since his 2008 career-changer Taken, he takes on mainly white guys (whew!).

Kehoe, Colorado’s most beloved snow plow driver Nels Coxman (Neeson) learns of his son’s heroin overdose death. Not believing his son to have been a junkie, he does some digging, and some retaliatory murdering.

One thing leads to another, the holy bonds between father and son are honored without being explored, Laura Dern (as Mrs. Coxman) vanishes from the film by the end of Act 1, and a rival drug gang complicates the revenge fantasy.

This is director Hans Petter Moland’s reboot of his own 2014 Norwegian thriller, In Order of Disappearance. Both films employ a dark and absurd humor that keep the well-worn material from feeling stale. The weird tone and Moland’s flair for fantastic visuals—not to mention his joy of carnage—keep the film intriguing from start to finish.

A game supporting cast doesn’t hurt. Tom Bateman (listen close and you can hear him say, “holy shit” in The Interview) chews enough scenery to balance Neeson’s quiet brood.

Plenty of peculiar turns and quirky moments between odd characters elevate this one above your garden variety Neeson thriller. It offers a mildly entertaining time—assuming you can get past the actor’s own disturbing relationship with revenge.