Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre (2009)

directed by júlíus kemp
The icelandic filmcompany/solar films

Also known, in the United Kingdom at least, as Harpoon: Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre – probably to distinguish it from all the other movies titled “Harpoon” or because “Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre” wasn’t a descriptive enough title for a movie about a massacre that takes place during a whale-watching expedition in the waters around Iceland – RWWM is a odd little slice of bad tidings. It’s also funny, after a fashion; the term used could be “black humor” were it not quite so ill-mannered or misanthropic. Actually, one of the most interesting things about this exercise in callous, gratuitous cruelty is how the alleged humor is played – very offhandedly, for the most part. By this I mean there’s no setup and no reaction to any of the moments of presumable mirth; they’re just a part of the mélange. It’s quite an approach, and adds an appealing touch of cinéma vérité to a picture that probably doesn’t warrant it. Not as much of a feel-good film as one might expect from the uplifting title.

why did i watch this movie?

Back when I first heard of this movie, my reaction was along the lines of “my, that’s an unusually blunt and descriptive title.” My curiosity, it was piqued.

should you watch this movie?

It’s not the most creative endeavor, but it flaunts impressive gall at times. If you do decide to see it, maybe you can clue me in about the part I failed to understand.

highlight and low point

The first couple moments of violence are unexpected and stunning, one being particularly eye-opening, and the film has a deft touch for scattering little particulars here and there. Allegations of racism, sexism and what-have-you could be mounted.

rating from outer space: B+

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