SIFF Film Review – Fuck Up

Fuck Up Movie PosterChildhood bonds can be among the strongest in a person’s life. And the four characters in the new darkly comic crime caper Fuck Up started a lifelong friendship very early on. Flipping back and forth between when they were in grade school with often comedic flashbacks and the low-rent disparate lives they are all living now in the same Norwegian town, this movie (premiering locally at the Seattle International Film Festival) shows that it’s not just Americans that create indie-feeling violent humor.

Jack has a wife, daughter to whom he is unquestionably devoted, and is in the final stages of becoming a full-fledged ambulance driver. As played by Jon Øigarden, Jack is first seen engaged in cocaine-fueled sexual antics in the back room of a bar. While he cares about his domestic life, he also constantly undercuts his better nature with booze, drugs, women, and sheer recklessness. Robin (Tuva Novotny), the only girl of these childhood friends, looks to have made something of herself. She is a respected doctor working at the hospital where Jack is training to be an EMT. But her father is also in the final days of hospice care. She’s conflicted by sorrow over her dad, an implied childhood trauma, and genuinely sisterly love for the rest of the group. Rasmussen, the misanthrope of the gang, is a paunchy, bearded creature of pure fearless self-gratification. There isn’t a scene where he isn’t drinking, smoking, or plotting to steal a luxury car out of a showroom. He has plans to give up a somewhat criminal life to instead smuggle chicken wings in the hopes of less risk for greater reward. In his own way, though, he may be the smartest member of the group. He is the one who has skeleton keys to get into anyplace in town, he engineers a plot to break into a police station to retrieve a stash of drugs, and he’s on top of it when a getaway car is needed (unless he happens to fall asleep in the car showroom before stealing one). All three of these characters have loaned large sums of money to their fourth pal, Glen. He has a drug smuggling plan he hasn’t told any of them about. However, early in the film when he accidentally hits a moose with his car filled with drugs and ends up comatose in the hospital, the gangsters to whom Glen owns money come looking for payment from Jack and the rest of the group.

Fuck Up 1

The titular Fuck Up has many meanings in this feature. Simultaneously referring to the criminal plan going wrong as well as how all of these four run their lives, it is a hilarious and apt description. This movie plays much like an icy Norwegian Guy Ritchie movie. The main henchman enforcer who works for the main crimelord acts a lot like Vinnie Jones in Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. There are occasional quick cuts between the crime plot and a bit of information about their childhood. Through the course of the film, a finger gets cut off, a cat gets head-butted, a car gets driven through a window, someone gets thrown off a roof, and multiple beatings ensue. The gangsters threatening Jack are suitably scary and intense. And the snowy, dark surroundings of another part of the world make Fuck Up just different enough to stand apart.

If you like your humorous crime capers bloody and dark, this might be for you. True, we’ve seen other movies like this before. But between Sweden and Norway we’ve been getting some truly intense thrillers lately. That part of the map is yielding compelling filmic treasures as of late. Recommended.

Fuck Up plays at Egyptian Theatre on May 30th at 9:30pm.

Final Grade: B+

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I'm a family man who got his Drama degree back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth and now works at a desk. I love movies of all kinds, and I am still working my way through the list of 1001 movies you must see before you die.

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