Get lost and found with the beautiful “Nordland”
By Daniela Costa on June 16, 2015
Think you have abandonment issues? Try having your girlfriend strand you during what should have been a romantic trip to Norway. That’s the plot behind the perfectly European and perfectly titled Nordland.
An opening sensuous love scene (that is so beautifully shot) quickly transitions into drama. Girls with daddy issues–that’s rough. Eleni (Odine Johne) soon finds this out while visiting her girlfriend Kaia’s (Maren Hoff) father.
Kaia is still very resentful over her parents’ failed marriage and she’s placed most of the blame on her dad. Despite this, she still travels from Germany to Norway to see him–and with her girlfriend in tow. But when you don’t deal with such underlying issues, they tend to boil over. Soon into her visit she has a blowout with her dad, and when her girlfriend doesn’t tell her she’s absolutely 100% right, Kaia says screw them both. She leaves. For real.
Of course Eleni doesn’t want to believe her girlfriend would actually pull a stunt like that. She’s in denial, walking around town, hoping to spot Kaia. Instead, she gets a text stating, “I’m gone. And oh, look out for my camera, would you?”
Unbelievable. And yet Eleni wants to track down her emotionally unstable girlfriend, and armed with a town name and a photo of an old family house, she sets off.
Know what happens when you’re trying to find someone in the middle of nowhere? You do a lot of walking. It’s certainly to our benefit, because rural Norway is spectacular. The movie as a whole is very much a love letter to the country. But for Eleni, the elements and long stretches of road are brutal.
She does finally find the old house, but her girlfriend’s not in it. This was her one hope throughout this miserable journey. She’s completely devastated.
Fortunately the world is not completely full of assholes, and she does eventually find a friendly stranger. She travels with him for a bit, before finding some more interesting companions. Then she meets a fellow traveler and endears herself to her so much that she finds a place to stay. What a place at that–no hotel concierge I ever met was as beautiful as the lovely Toril (Nora G. Svalheim).
While Toril’s cousin soon leaves, Eleni stays behind. The two bond over cooking and rock climbing, and over their mutual lack of defined future plans. And yes, romance soon blooms. But Eleni technically still has a girlfriend. Plus at this point she justifiably has her own trust issues. Oh, and there’s also the fact that she’s literally in the middle of nowhere!
Really, what would you do if you were in her shoes? I asked myself that same question throughout the whole film, and I still don’t have concrete answers.
Nordland is a physically beautiful movie, with its amazing use of color and landscape. What’s more, we see a great performance from Johne, who carries the movie wonderfully. Even if you’re not a fan of European art cinema, I believe you’ll find you have a soft spot for Nordland.
Visit the movie’s Facebook page to find out when it’ll be playing at a film festival near you.