The Tundra Within Me

The Tundra Within Me Rating

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The Tundra Within Me is part of the Scandinavian Film Festival, Freedom From Fear stories. The film is set on the snowy plateaus of Northern Norway and revolves around an erstwhile reindeer herder who gave it all up to become an artist in the city.

The main character, Lena, is played by Risten Anine Kvernmo Gaup and presents the film’s main problem, ergo, a not particularly likeable central character. As a single mother with one son, Lena returns to her roots and almost immediately embarks on an affair with a local herder, Máhtte, (Nils Ailu Kemi,) who isn’t particularly likeable either. Neither party is represented as particularly appealing, which makes for dull, screen-time company. Sigh!

Unfortunately, first-time director and writer Sara Margrethe Oskal presents us with a predictable, linear narrative that is weirdly enervating. However, the film’s strengths are the landscape, the actual reindeers, and some beautiful footage of the Aurora Borealis.

As the plot progresses, there’s a (slight) love triangle presented, amidst a bit of phone-texting. (Roll of eyes) Lena draws by romantic-looking candlelight, what? Generally, artists need a bright, stable light source, and her naked, reindeer horns n’ skull themes are risible. (Any teenage, angst-ridden, ex-art students in da house?)

The Tundra Within Me

That being said, there’s a local yoiking competition, which is a kind of indigenous chanting, and singer Gaup can hold a tune. Perhaps this is why she was cast? This is a high point in terms of her performance. Credible supporting cast include Anitta Suikkari as the disapproving Márjá and the local bar-owner, (name unascertainable,) amidst other Guap-family members, including the son. No nepotism here!

It’s all a very tepid, or should that be icy? affair that is ultimately unsatisfying. Like the title, perhaps something has been lost in translation? Better writing and casting might have made a difference, especially when the film revolves around one character. The film does have something to say in regard to the clash between modernity and tradition, and it does provide an insight into the traditions of the Sápmi herding life; for that, it may be worth seeing.

My Rating: Slushy – as in the melting snow kind

This review also appears on It’s On The House. Check out more reviews at Whats The Show to see what else is on in your town.

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