SMALL TOWN KILLERS/ DRAEBERNE FRA NIBE. Denmark, 2016, 94 minutes, Colour.
Ulrich Thomsen, Nicolas Bro, Mia Lyhne, Lena Maria Christensen, Marius Docinski, Gwen Taylor. Directed by Ole Bornedal.
No, this is not a serious Danish look at serial killers out in the countryside in small villages. Rather, it is a black comedy – not without a body count.
Early in the film, the local policeman refers to the two central characters, two private enterprise builders, Edward and Ib (Ulrich Thomson and Nicholas Breaux), as Dumb and Dumber. He means the characters played by Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels in the 1995 comedy. In fact, the policeman could have referred more tellingly to the prequel, Dumb and Dumberer. They certainly are.
Older audiences may enjoy the marital problems of the two builders and their wives. The men are sex-preoccupied, sex on the brain (though brain does seem to be an overstatement in this case). They discuss it, one going to a therapist, the other ogling his wife as she prepares to go salsa dancing in the local church. The wives, on the other hand, have more things on their minds, the possibility of having children, a more meaningful relationship. And, at the salsa lessons, they are enthralled by the enthusiasm and verve of the instructor (and regret that he is gay).
And the title? First of all, the men decide to divorce their wives but find that this would be hugely expensive, even though they have a whole lot of cash stashed away in the fridge in the basement, they’re doing a lot of their work by hand and cash payments rather than contracts. Then, Edward gets the bright (only for the moment as he goes online) to hire a hitman to get rid of the wives. He chooses a Russian. Actually, when the wives discover what has happened and encounter the hitman, they decide to go British, so much more understated and disciplined, and hire Miss Nippleworthy (it’s that kind of comedy), Gwen Taylor, doing something of an audition for a murderous Miss Marple.
Obviously, things are going to get out of hand. The Russian, is continually drunk and continually drinking, murdering the Afghan taxi driver who curses him. Corpse number 1 to get rid of. And there will be more.
Of course, the men change their mind, trying to persuade the hitman to go back home, trying therapy so that his memories will be erased, dressing up in drag and pretending to be their wives declaring that they now love their husbands and he needn’t kill them!
The ending will provide very little surprise – not the facts, of course, but the manner in which it all happens, Miss Nippleworthy going down as she sings Rule Britannia.
Ulrich Thomsen as Edward generally plays in dramas and comedy is not his forte, even though he does let loose at the end dancing salsa. Nicolas Bro on the other hand, a large actor, is much more at home in comedy – especially when his let his inner female out, pretending to be his wife, and reminiscing about a first date as a teenager (girl).
In fact, the Danes are not noted for their plight comedies – and when the two wives explain to Miss Nippleworthy that they would like their murder to be Scandinavian, she replies “dull and dark”.
Some amusing moments – but, all concerned may have been trying too hard.
Palace Films Released August 31st
Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.