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TIFF 2014 Review: Life in a Fishbowl

Baldvin Z’s film Life in a Fishbowl is already a massive hit in Iceland, and its description in the TIFF Program Book describes its characters, (the movie is essentially a three-hander) as a metaphor for the country’s fiscal and financial burden.

We believe, however, that Life in a Fishbowl is far more impactful because it presents three characters that could have easily become clichés; the former athlete turned corporate toady, Sölvi, who must learn how to accept business machinations or stick to his guiding principles, a single mother, Eik, hampered by the high cost of living and forced to turn tricks in order to make ends meet, (she enters the world’s creepiest party, and led to a sweaty Hawaiian-shirt clad man, is forced to perform for him with a bored expression on her face. This is the first few minutes of the film). A third character, Mori, appears to be some sort of wino or vagrant, with wild unkempt beard and shabby clothes, but it is later revealed to be an artist and poet, and still having the ability to be impactful.

These three characters, played seemingly effortlessly by actors Thor Kristjansson, Hera Hilmar and Þorsteinn Bachmann manage to transcend cliché because of one reason and one reason only: they are fallible. Moreover, their redemptive arcs, which we think that are going to go one way, go another.

Credit to Baldvin Z for recognizing that life doesn’t go as it was planned, and is sometimes a little fishy.

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