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In a small Norwegian town near the Swedish border, a bloody shootout leaves eight people dead in a porn shop. Buried alive under a large woman, bloodied, dazed and confused, Oscar Svendsen (Kyrre Hellum) has to try and explain to an incredulous and suspicious Inspector Solor (Henrik Mestad) what happened. In his version of events, body parts are scattered around while and a tanning bed, a Swedish pig farm and a greedy landlord (Fridtjov Saheim) are all somehow involved. It all began when Oscar, who works at the Evergreen plant supervising ex-cons as they make artificial Christmas trees, joins psychopath Billy (Arthur Berning), slow-thinking loser Tor (Mads Ousdal) and ever-grinning Dan (Andreas Cappelen) in a soccer betting pool. And the foursome has the winning entry, worth 1.7 million kronor.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Scandinavian action comedies tend to be pretty dark, and Jackpot is nothing if not dark. But it's dark in the farcical way that makes the gruesome almost wholesome, thanks to the tone of absurdity. Jo Nesbo's latest story (after Headhunters, released in Australian cinemas in March 2012) is cleverly told in episodes alternating between the investigation and interrogation conducted by droll local cop Inspector Solar (Henrik Mestad), and the actual events.

The outrageous nature of the story is balanced by the matter of fact naturalistic performances and the smart directing, which makes the most of the genre's edgiest tools.

Kyrre Hellum is wonderfully deadpan as Oscar, the least criminal of the group, who is propelled through events seemingly out of control. Arthur Berning is deliciously crazy as Billy, who makes his entrance holding a nail-gun at Oscar's head. Also great is Mads Ousdal as Tor, thick but also dangerous, while the cool self congratulatory air of Henrik Mestad as Solor the cop is a dry delight.

Marie Blokhus has little to do as Solor's assistant, but Lena Kristen Ellingsen is memorable in another small role, working at a local bar and befriending Oscar. Her cropped white hair and gamin good looks decorating a vivid personality give the film an added texture.

Moving at a fair clip, Jackpot throws us off the scent several times and some throws away humour is cleverly inserted as we career towards a twisted dénouement. Twisted in both senses. Made with confidence and shot in sharp-eyed wide screen, the film is a trim 82 minutes but leaves nothing out that should be left in.

Review by Louise Keller :
The Scandinavians do black comedy well and if you're a lover of the genre, you're on a winning ticket with Joe Nesbo's Jackpot. Best selling novelist Joe Nesbo, who penned Headhunters (recently made into a tantalising thriller) devised the story, which involves a winning soccer pool ticket, a sex-shop and porn bar, ex-crims who make artificial Christmas trees. Well constructed with a seemingly unlimited supply of unlikely ingredients, director Magnus Martens prolongs the premise and suspense for the duration, milking cringes for the gore and chuckles in praise of the incongruous.

The cleverly structured screenplay leapfrogs between the police station interrogation room where mild-mannered Oscar Svendson (Kyrre Hellum) is being questioned and the events that bring him there. Unsure whether he is a witness or a suspect, Oscar is found at the scene of the shady Pink Heaven Striptease under the body of an oversize, topless, dead stripper with a gun in his hand. It all begins when the newcomer psychopath Billy (Arthur Berning) alongside placid Dan (Andreas Cappelen) and Thor (Mads Ousdal) decide to get a soccer pool ticket with Oscar, their supervisor at Evergreen, the artificial Christmas tree factory where former offenders are put to work. The fact that the ticket is the winning one is the beginning of a series of events involving Oscar's landlord, the local cops, the hoods who run the sex-joint and others.

The unlikely tale involves murder, a missing corpse, garbage bags, a tanning bed, a rolled up carpet slung on a car roof, a newly painted red wall, a wood chipper, sex-shop blow-up dolls, a pigsty, cheesie doodles, monopoly money and much more as Oscar tells his tale to Inspector Solar (Henrik Mestad). There's a funny running gag involving the fact that the poor, thick Thor can't work out the maths when the number of recipients of the prize money changes..

The police arrive at inopportune times, there are road blocks and the need to make a corpse look like someone suffering from a hangover and I like the moment when the National Lottery telephones the men, just as one body is about to receive a massive blow from an axe. Hellum is suitably poker-faced throughout and I like Mestad as the exquisitely droll Inspector. Ousdal plays dumb beautifully and Lena Kristen Ellingsen is lovely as Oscar's waitress girlfriend. Delectable and thoroughly entertaining.

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(Norway, 2011)

Arme Riddere

CAST: Kyrre Hellum, Henrik Mestad, Marie Blokhus, Mads Ousdal, Andreas Cappelen, Arthur Berning, Lena Kristin Ellingsen, Jan Gronli

PRODUCER: Are Heidenstrom, Martin Sundland

DIRECTOR: Magnus Martens

SCRIPT: Magnus Martens (book by Jo Nesbo)


EDITOR: Jon Endre Mork

MUSIC: Magnus Beite


RUNNING TIME: 82 minutes



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