Michael Noer is a gritty realist, concerned with the unstoppable inertia of the city. Crossing back and forth between documentary and fiction, Noer sees no line between the constructed plots of his films and the real-life social fissures in Danish society. His depictions of the malfunctioning systems that entrap youth into a life of crime and poverty are starkly grounded in reality, which makes the characters in his films all the more believable and tragic.

 

Northwest is a perfect realization of Dogme-era filmmaking: gritty, natural, spontaneous — yet regulated, deliberate, purposeful. Each shot and each scene is a controlled strike to a vital point, every scene punctuated with heartbreaking efficacy. Northwest compares favorably to a film as essential as City of God, in that the two young co-stars are the lifeblood of this urban tragedy. This film captures the spirit of youth just as well as any other.

Real life brothers Gustav Dyekjær Giese and Oscar Dyekjær Giese play brothers Caspar and Andy. Caspar is on the cusp of manhood, and for him, that means accepting the mantle as a bonafide gangster youth. His crimes are petty and mundane at first (his stealing a PL Artichoke from a flat guarded only by an excitable little puppy brings the laughs), but eventually escalate out of control as ambition and hubris get the best of him. The downward spiral that consumes Caspar and his brother is deceptive in its mundanity, but none of this is skipped by Noer, since the deception is just as important as the actual crime.

This is a film that elicits “wow’s” and breathtaking moments. This is a film that doesn’t require breathtaking cinematography (unless you count that of the unkempt basement in a suburban brothel) to maintain your attention. This is a film that lays everything out, provides a simple narrative, and effortlessly evolves into a multi-layered, compelling coming of age film. This film is a must-watch. ALLEN HUANG

Directed by Michael Noer

This film is reviewed in conjunction with the Seattle International Film Festival 2013. Click below to see all related reviews and coverage.

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