The favorable reviews give a misleading picture of this disappointing mess. Yes, the visuals are nice, including repeated arty closeups of horses' eyes with reflections in them as well as lovely pictures of the Icelandic landscape. But the plot, if you can call it that, is both minimal and silly. In particular, some of the key events in the movie make absolutely no sense. Here are my main complaints (spoilers ahead):
(1) The movie opens with a funny story line in which a local gentleman rides his mare to a female neighbor's house for tea. (Later in the movie, they inexplicably choose to have sex for the first time in a valley during a horse roundup where everyone else can see them.) As he is riding away, the woman's stallion breaks loose and mounts the mare with the rider on it (the picture on the movie poster). He then rides the mare home and shoots her. Umm, okay, maybe he didn't want that stallion to breed with his mare, but would he really kill her? Why not just kill the foal after it's born if you really think it's useless? (And people later compliment the stallion after it's gelded, so it's not like it's some crappy horse.) Surely you could breed the mare again. I am not an expert on horse breeding, but killing the mare seems like an insane reaction to an unwanted pregnancy.
(2) A local drunk rides a horse into the ocean to meet up with a Russian boat leaving port. At first you think, oh, what a risky way to steal a horse. But he is not stealing the horse. He leaves it standing in a temporary platform dangling from the ship while he boards it to pick up two bottles of very strong alcohol from the Russians, who warn him against drinking it straight. He doesn't seem to give them anything in return, and there is no explanation of why he can't get alcohol an easier way (alcohol is expensive in Iceland, but couldn't he just make his own moonshine?). He then rides the horse back to the mainland. Of course, he drinks the alcohol straight from the bottle despite the Russians' warning, and then he dies of alcohol poisoning. This is yet another story line with cool visuals and a nonsensical plot.
(3) A random Spanish-speaking guy is biking through the countryside and gets a crush on a Norwegian girl who is herding some horses. He asks if he can join the riders and they say sure, why not? As he is riding with a group that is driving a herd of horses ahead of them, he falls behind because he is an inexperienced rider and he can't get his horse to speed up. The rest of the riders abandon him, and he gets lost. (There is no world in which a group of riders would leave a strange foreigner behind in Iceland on one of their horses.) It starts snowing, and to survive, he kills the horse and climbs inside of it (like Luke Skywalker climbing into a tauntaun in the Empire Strikes Back). Oh, and he kills the horse with a single blow from a pocket knife, then uses that same pocket knife to cut the horse open well enough to fit inside it. Sure. The next morning the group that abandoned him finds him and pulls him out of the horse.
Could one of these inexplicable, pointless story lines be excused? Maybe. But three of them? And it's not like we get some other great payoff to make up for this silliness. (There are a couple more story lines, but they aren't worth summarizing.)
In short, some of the visuals are good, and if you like Icelandic horses, you might enjoy just watching the horses. But as a movie, this is pretty terrible.
2 out of 5 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.