Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
You have to question the wisdom of opening a foreign language film on the opening day of the Melbourne Film Festival, traditionally the quietest time of the year for art-house cinemas. The strategy is even more dubious when you consider that MIFF has included a special section on new Scandinavian cinema this year, further eating into Jackpot's potential audience. Perhaps the people at Rialto knew they didn't have a winner on their hands this time around.
Crime writer Jo Nesbo has a huge following, and a large canon of work that includes Headhunters, recently the source for the international box office hit film of the same name. Jackpot marks Nesbo's first script written originally for the screen. On paper it probably looked pretty good, but what could've been a decent dark comedy has been under-served by obvious "funny" music which gives the film a hokey, slapstick feel.
The plot has a pleasingly labrynthine structure, although none of the twists come as any great surprise. The film's tone has a certain grimness which is oh so Nordic, and fortunately the lead character has a bit more appeal than his repulsive cohorts. But while we're happy to cheer on our underdog, whether he's a criminal or not (as we did in Headhunters) Jackpot doesn't have the same level of ingenuity or visual flair as its predecessor. Nor will it have the same level of success.
No doubt Martin Scorcese's adaptation of Snowman will bring Nesbo a far greater level of recognition.