Growing up in a remote part of Iceland can be mind-numbingly dull, especially for a gifted teenager like Noi (Tomas Lemarquis). Some of the people around Noi believe that he is a pretty smart guy, but his actions don't demonstrate this. He barely shows up for school, and when he does, he's frequently asleep. More likely he's bored with everything around him, and strives for something different. The main issue here is that the boredom that Noi feels slowly projects itself onto the viewer. While the movie is fairly interesting, the pacing is slow and not much happens, which unfortunately means that some people may lack the patience to sit through it. Noi has the same kind of understated wry humor as its geographic brethren Kitchen Stories and The Man Without a Past. In fact, Noi has notched an obscene amount of film festivals under its belt before its distribution.

Noi is content to spend his time wandering around town, drinking malt at the local eatery and talking to the local bookseller. He lives with his grandmother Lina (Anna Fridriksdottir) and his absent father Kiddi (Prostur Leo Gunnarsson, The Sea, No Such Thing) visits every once in a while. These two characters seem like they are around for comic relief more than anything else. Lina wakes Noi up by firing a shotgun out the window, and Kiddi enjoys Elvis karaoke. Writer/director Dagur Kari (Villiljos, Lost Weekend) made Noi an albino, but this doesn't really have any direct impact on the story. What it does touch upon is Noi's sense of isolation. He sticks out from everybody else. The fact that he is smart doesn't help, and worst of all, he's stuck in his little town.

Everything changes when Iris (Elin Hansdottir) arrives. She's staying in town for a while to escape from the city, and Noi takes an instant liking to her. Iris eventually warms up to him, and he finds in her a compatriot in his isolation. He dreams of escaping to somewhere, anywhere else and taking her along with him. But, he doesn't know how he can leave. Kari straddles the line on portraying Noi's sense of teen angst and rebellion. Sometimes, He and Lemarquis make it clear how disaffected Noi feels with the world around him, other times it just seems like Noi's a typical teenage slacker. The comedy that does appear in the film is sometimes so understated that it's barely there. Everything about Noi, from its dialogue, setting, and structure seems to evoke minimalism, even to the point of bleakness. Again, while this does help to show how far removed Noi is physically (and mentally), it also slowly drags on the viewer.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 33 minutes, Icelandic with English subtitles, Rated PG-13 for language and brief nudity.

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