And Breathe Normally (Andidh Edhlilega) (2018)


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This debut feature from Iceland’s Isold Uggadottir takes a small moment in the lives of two very different women and spins a delicate and nuanced story of oppression and connection.

Lára (Kristin Thóra Haraldsdóttir) is a mum of Eldar (Patrik Nökkvi Pétursson), living close to the poverty line but reluctant to ask for help. She begins a traineeship for the border control at Keflavik airport and knows this is her chance to make a decent life for herself and Eldar. Trying to make a good impression, she alerts a colleague to an anomaly with the passport of Adja (Babetida Sadjo), a young woman from Guinea-Bissau passing through on her way to Canada. Adja is detained and as Lára’s life continues to slip from her control, the paths of the two women overlap.

Uggadottir takes time to build the characters, first Lára, then Adja. We get little clues that Lara has a past that she is trying to escape, mistakes she is trying to redeem. It helps us understand how fragile her life is and how much of herself she has to hide for fear that she will lose it all if she is exposed. Like for Lára, it takes time for us to get to know Adja. She’s often silent and in a country where she doesn’t speak the language. Like Lára, she has to hide who she truly is and is without anyone to go to for help. The barrenness of the Icelandic landscape is an integral character, particularly the no-mans-land around the airport. It shows the isolation of the characters, their disconnection from people and support and understanding.

The ending is a nice one, perhaps a little contrived but gently played and satisfying in its absoluteness.

Have you seen this film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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