By Adam Ray Palmer
Snævar Sölvason, writer/director hailing from Iceland, brings us his third feature-film in the strand of the aptly named ‘Iceland’ at this year’s Glasgow Film Festival.
Eden stars Sölvason’s common collaborator Hansel Eagle and Icelandic actress Telma Huld Jóhannesdóttir in her third full film.
Eden is an action driven love story that follows a young couple, Lóa (Telma Huld Jóhannesdóttir) and Óliver (Hansel Eagle), who slowly but surely become drug dealers in Reykjavik, Iceland. This isn’t their first intention, but they need money to get away and start a new life.
After a few near misses with the law, and some big, bad guys – the writing is on the wall. But instead of quitting whilst they are marginally ahead, they decide to make a go for it with some stolen narcotics from an infamous drug lord. Of course, things are never that simple as the darkness always creeps up on you; thus meaning… their hopes and dreams begin to crumble.
The film is a tale of two halves. The first act is establishing all we need to know. We’re introduced to Lóa and Óliver, two misfits who long for something better in life but they simply never get the luck. Then, halfway through the movie on the brink of the second act, the duo appear to have found their out. They find a large number of lucrative narcotics that could kick start they life. So, as the second act unravels, so does their doomed plan. There’s a resounding theme in Eden that is best described as Romeo and Juliet. The down-and-out pair are reminiscent of star-crossed lovers from start to finish. The switch between the first and second act, as the pace ramps up, is certainly similar to the brilliant German film, Victoria (2015).
Similarly, to Victoria, Eden is anchored by a resilient woman in Lóa. Lóa is a strong, dominant female who bulldozes through any situation. Whether that be flirting with death, taking on feared drug lords or even battling her own vices. Her role is very reminiscent of Ella Rumpf in Tiger Girl. A delinquent with no family or support network, kicking out at the world.
Even the filmmaking behind Eden is similar to Tiger Girl (2017 Berlinale movie), it’s fast-paced editing, music video-esque shots that pin together like a Spring Breakers type of vibe. For instance, an action piece or a fun, quirky scene wouldn’t be right without a few speed ramps in the editing suite.
Snævar Sölvason has clearly been heavily influenced by at least the movies I have mentioned above, but that is by no means a bad thing. Sölvason has crafted a well-rounded drama-thriller that deserves more people to see it. For me personally, I really enjoy these indie films where it’s a full, congruent story but not being elongated over 150 minutes. Sölvason gets to the heart of Eden in 30 mins and wraps it up fully in 85 minutes. Nothing is left out, nothing more is needed – a solid effort from Iceland.
Cineroom’s rating: 4 stars
Eden screened at the 2020 Glasgow Film Festival as part of the ‘Iceland’ strand.