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Headhunters

Morten Tyldum                Norwegian 2011        Certificate 15  with subtitles

Headhunters opens in fairly conventional film noir style: our hero, who is not necessarily that likeable a chap, introduces us to his life in voiceover. It's quite a brazen trope, binning everything screenwriters generally strive for in terms of show-don't-tell. Here, the character simply tells us who he is, what's important to him, where his insecurities lie, what his motives are. Of course, there's also room for an ironic reality gap between what we're told and shown; it's one of the arch charms of the genre.

Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) is initially pitched way up the scale in terms of losing our sympathies early on (rich, philandering, materialistic); it's the film's main coup de theatre that we suddenly realise about halfway through that we do, after all, care what happens to him. And plenty happens, to him and to an array of actors who aren't established enough (at least in the UK) that we're able to intuit their likely fates through prior knowledge of the types of roles they normally play.

Fans of realism, where realism means nothing happening that a newspaper would ever be remotely interested in writing about, are advised to steer clear, as are those with squeamish tendencies. The macabre set pieces here are something like early Peter Jackson meets Jackson Pollock, with an earthy, mischievous sense of humour undercutting the Eurosplatter. See it before the inevitable remake.  FILM 4    review