Bestselling Norwegian author Jo Nesbø has made his second foray into screenwriting with the forthcoming film Jackpot. Granting how early on Nesbø is in his cinematic exploits he has already created a commotion over his signature style, with comparisons being made to Tarentino and the Coen brothers. His use of violence and black humour is recognisably similar to these giants of film, but it is also the prominence of the bleak Scandinavian landscape that has drawn comparisons to the Coen brothers and their use of the Midwestern landscape.
At the film’s beginning, Oscar Svendsen (Kyrre Hellum) awakens in a ravaged strip club named Pink Heaven, lying under a large dead stripper with a shotgun in his hand. Everyone bar the police on scene is dead and he is the number one suspect. In a series of flashbacks he recounts what happened to the chief detective to prove his innocence. Oscar is a run-of-the-mill man who had been living a very ordinary life working in a recycling factory before getting caught up in the insane antics of his ex-con employees. Dragged into a gambling pool which ended up winning a large sum of money, Oscar uselessly tried to keep his composure as the ex-cons fought over their winnings.
Even though much of the gory physical comedy isn’t that original, it is still pretty hilarious. With one of the ex-cons killed in a fight over the money, there is a familiar how to get rid of the body scene. What ensues is a dumb and dumber moment between the criminals as they attempt to chop up the body but don’t know where to start. It of course ends in a bloodbath as they hack away at the body until the walls and their faces are painted red. A severed finger goes missing, saving a physical gag for later. Caught between the remaining violent criminals, Oscar must help dispose of the body to save himself. He moves from the model worker to a desperate man shoving a corpse into the factory chipper to churn up the evidence. The attention to small finishing details in such gags is what makes Nesbø’s film. Once the body has been shoved through the chipper, we see the little recycled Christmas trees they produce are dyed blood red. The quite sweet and wholesome image of the festive, eco-friendly factory that rehabilitates ex-cons is marred with the brilliantly macabre and cynical image of the blood-painted trees. As the bodies keep piling up, so do the jokes. In another memorable scene, Oscar and ex-con Thor are pulled over at a toll with a dead body propped up in the passenger seat of the car, a nail gun implanted in his forehead.
Considering all the blood and guts jokes and the central location of the strip bar, it is clearly not only the goofy mentality of the characters that is ridiculed, but the human body in all of its functions. When bodies are not being stuffed out of windows and exploding like malfunctioning paintball machines they are displayed as crude, silly objects like the Pink Heaven blow-up dolls and their assortment of sex toys. Even the massive blow-out in the strip bar doesn’t end without a body gag, as the large stripper cries out and falls on Oscar, inadvertently protecting him from fire and proving it’s not over until the fat lady sings.
While Jackpot is nowhere near as rich in original black humour and satire as the films it has been compared to, there are a few stand-out features that perhaps deserved more screen time, such as the character of the detective. Detective Solø (Henrik Mestad) is a seventies throwback in his snakeskin jacket, pointy shoes and slightly quiffed hair who insists on discussing his interrogation techniques with the suspect himself. Extremely cocky and slightly clueless, he proves that it is not only the criminals who are zany in this Swedish border town. Maybe Nesbø and director Magnus Martens will make a sequel with Detective Solø at the helm.
Watch the trailer now on meg.ie.
Jo Nesbø’s Jackpot is released exclusively at the IFI from 10 August 2012.