Is he the village idiot or a genius in disguise? Seventeen-year-old Nói drifts through life on a remote fjord in the north of Iceland. In winter, the fjord is cut off from the outside world, surrounded by ominous mountains and buried under a shroud of snow. Nói dreams of escaping from this white-walled prison with Iris, a city girl who works in a local gas station. But his clumsy attempts at escape spiral out of control and end in complete failure. Only a natural disaster will shatter Nóis universe and offer him a better world.
Hairless, gaunt, and pallid, the title character of Noi
is an Icelandic slacker, a smart but alienated high school boy with a boozing dad and meager prospects. His small-town life brightens a bit when he meets Iris, the daughter of a local bookstore owner, who's vacationing from the city. For their first date, they break into a museum and kiss in front of a taxidermed polar bear. But Noi's life continues its downward turn; he's expelled from school and gets a job as a gravedigger, prompting a desperate gesture. Noi
is sort of a collision between Ferris Bueller's Day Off
and Scandinavian nihilism (the bookstore owner quotes the dour philosopher Kierkegaard). Fortunately, the bleak events are carried out with skewed humor and sly visual flair. The restlessness and despair of adolescence are captured with honesty and sympathy. --Bret Fetzer