Film Scouts Diaries

2002 Karlovy Vary Film Festival Diaries
Karlovy Vary Diary #6: Shoes...

by Henri Béhar

Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, July 9th, 2002 - A pair of high-heels très 1950's Hollywood make their way through the mud and sludge of a small village. The pumps, and the gams, belong to Freya, a young Icelandic woman who went to America, got married, and now returns -- trunks, suitcases and hat boxes in tow -- to her family in the tiny hamlet near Reykjavik. "What happened ?" her mother, sisters, cousins, aunts ask. "Where is your husband?" Freya: "He's dead." The women gasp. Freya continues: "He had a heart attack while I was cleaning the fridge." The women: "You have a fridge?" There you have it: the premise of an Icelandic fantastic comedy. As played by Margret Vilhjälmsdóttir (think Catherine Zeta-Jones doing a Dorothy Malone number on you), Freya is mysterious, aware of her feminine assets and an expert at how to use them: practically the entire village falls under her spell. All except eleven-year old Agga who wonders whether aunt Freya is a Viking heroin, a gold-digger (well, we know that), a mermaid (whose long hair cascading in slow motion is the equivalent of the sirens' lethal song), a goddess, a murderer, if not all of the above. The film is hilarious (in an Icelandic sort of way) and Ugla Eglisdóttir is a dead ringer for Christina Ricci in "The Addams Family".

Less so in real life, though, as, at the party thrown by Variety magazine at the old Post Office (a huge place with a courtyard to accommodate a fleet of horse-drawn carriages, now a museum), she headed for the dance floor and turned into a finalist in a Debbie Reynolds look-alike contest, complete with tattered chiffon skirt très Irene Sharaf and tap-dance shoes.

At which point I clicked my red-sequined boots and flew off to bed.

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