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Headhunters (9/10)

by Tony Medley

Run time 100 minutes.

Not for children.

Jo Nesbø is a Norwegian writer of thrillers, most of which feature his protagonist, Harry Hole. This was his first book, written in 2008, in which Hole does not appear.

Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie, one of Norway's most popular actors) tells us right at the outset that he is short, 5-6, and must overcompensate. He has a gorgeous live-in girlfriend, Diana Brown (Synnøve Macody Lund, a journalist and former model who makes her acting debut). Although he works as a headhunter, he supplements his income by stealing art, with his partner, Ove Kikerud (Eivind Sander). Diana brings him a person searching for a specific job, Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, one of Denmark's most successful international actors). When Roger learns that Greve has inherited a painting that is potentially worth $100 million, he plots with Ove to steal it.

Alas, things go from bad to worse for poor Roger. At times things get so bad that this almost appears like a horror film, although that's not what it is. Regardless, the acting is superb. Directed by Morten Tyldum, from a script by Ulf Ryberg and Lars Gudmestad, this is a first-class thriller with tension-enhancing music (Trond Bjerknæs and Jeppe Kaas), and Hitchcockian-quality cinematography (John Andreas Andersen).

Like all good thrillers, after the setup that takes place in the first 15 minutes the tension constantly increases. While Roger is a "headhunter," in that his main occupation is finding people for jobs, the title attains a double meaning as the movie progresses.

Last year the best film I saw was the French thriller, Point Blank. This is another film in that mold. Many avoid foreign films because they don't like to read subtitles. These films are so good you soon don't even register that you're reading the dialogue. This film, especially, is so visual, that for most of it the subtitles are relatively irrelevant. In Norwegian & Danish.