22 July (2018) Netflix

Tagline: The true story of a day that started like any other. 

Premise: English language retelling of the 2011 terror attack in Norway by a lone, right wing terrorist, which involved a car bomb attack on Government buildings in Oslo and a gun attack on a children's left wing summer camp on the island of Utøya.

Delivery: “When I was lying on the beach I was all alone. In a kind of pain I couldn't imagine.”

New to Netflix, 22 July is one of two films out this year dramatising the attacks in Norway in 2011. I'm assuming I don't need to tell you which date of that year. The other is the Norwegian language Utøya: July 22 which focuses purely on the island massacre, in real time. 22 July director Paul Greengrass, who also directed the Bourne Ultimatum, Captain Phillips and the also real time 9/11 drama United 93, uses a more conventional, mainstream narrative in this film; trying to cover as much of the events and aftermath as possible. 

I saw reviews for 22 July which complained about the brevity of its opening attacks, making a meal of the ten to fifteen minute total length in the film, compared to the actual time span of well over an hour. All I will say on that is that ten to fifteen minutes of watching children murdered was quite enough to get the message across and that anyone who wanted a full hour of that miserable carnage is a fucking wrong-un. For those wondering, Utøya: July 22, while real time, is very careful to avoid wallowing in the more visceral elements, by all accounts.

Scandinavia has a reputation of being rather liberal, particularly when it comes to treatment of criminals. The trial of Anders Breivik takes up much of 22 July, running parallel with survivor Viljar Hanssen's slow, painful attempts to recover. What the film depicts during the legal to and fro, is an underbelly of deplorable racism in Norway and Europe writ large, which really pushes the left leaning to their limit of tolerance. Without going into the details as that's what the film illuminates, it is easy to understand the calls for the guilty man to swing.

The three male leads, Jonas Strand Gravli (Viljar), Anders Danielsen Lie (Breivik) and Jon Oigarden (Breivik's lawyer Gier Lippestad) are all very good. As is Maria Bock as Viljar's mother. Oigarden displays wonderful restraint and half flickers of the inner conflict his lawyer is experiencing while Danielsen Lie is utterly convincing. The perpetrator is portrayed as a putrid mix of the pathetic, pompous, petulant and pathologically determined. His calmness bordering on psychopathic. In other words, he's a cunt.

Bedsit it? While I wouldn't exactly say I enjoyed 22 July, as for obvious reasons it isn't an easy watch, it is moving. For those like me who only know what was in the UK, or non Norwegian papers, the film is an insight into the myriad of dilemmas and consequences of one deluded, racist arsehole's actions. 8/10


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