CIFF 2013: XL

The Calgary Eyeopener's Mario Trono reviews XL.

Darkly funny film captures life of drunk, hedonistic Icelandic politician

Olafur Darri Olafsson plays an alcoholic minister of parliament in Iceland. Before going to rehab, the ex-family man throws a huge party. (Courtesy XL)

For adventurous film fans who like their cinema and subject matter raw and intense, get out and see XL.  

XL is harrowing in all the right cinematic ways.- Mario Trono

It’s a drama from Iceland about an alcoholic member of parliament named Leif. His prime minister orders him into rehab but Leif won’t go. He parties hard instead and remains estranged from his wife and daughter.

If he ever does go to rehab, one wonders if his heart will be in it. It will likely be all political theatre if he does, or a cynical ploy to regain access to his daughter.


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Globe Cinema

This film brilliantly captures Leif’s frame of mind — the blackouts, the memory loss, the booze-fired emotions he toggles between. Don’t think this film resembles in any way The Hangover or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It doesn’t. The point of view sequences are sophisticated, multidimensional explorations of a lost and dangerous man’s psychology in superb cinematic fashion

Film Buzz

Watch and listen for Iceland’s famous daughter Björk.

This all makes for ongoing flashes of discovery for viewers throughout as to what exactly this man has done to his family, friends and political rivals.

Parts of XL are darkly funny and there’s a political comment about the character of those who seek power and about drinking in Iceland generally, which per capita, is pretty intense. Perhaps Leif is symbolic of Iceland’s troubled side, a hedonistic culture in ways, oblivious to the toll alcohol can take on political and family life.

See it or not?

See it. XL is harrowing in all the right cinematic ways, not the least of which involves you being so visually and experientially close to the despicable main character that you’re riveted to the film’s hide-and-seek narrative to find out if anyone innocent gets hurt. 


Mario Trono

Calgary Eyeopener movie reviewer

Mario Trono, a confessed visual culture addict, is a film and art reviewer obsessed with finding interesting things to look at and tell people about. He daylights as a film professor at Mount Royal University. You can follow him on Twitter at @MarioTrono and hear his DVD reviews Friday at 6:50 a.m. MT on the Calgary Eyeopener.


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