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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

Norwegian Dream ***

Starring: Hubert Milkowski, Karl Bekele Steinland, Edyta Torhan, Jakub Sierenberg 

Director: Leiv Igor Devold 

Country: Norway

UK Distributor: Peccadillo Pictures


Robert (Milkowski – Operation Hyacinth) is a young Polish immigrant who has moved to Norway to work at a fish factory, where the high wages have led him and many others to work in this far-flung northern town. Surrounded by other Poles, his dream of starting a new life away from home feels uncomfortably familiar as he’s beset with the same problems he had before. He meets Ivar (Steinland), the factory owner’s son, who loves to dance and perform. Drawn by this free-spirited creativity, Robert struggles to reconcile the curiosity he feels for this symbol of a new world with the toxic old way of life that has followed him to Norway.

The Norwegian Dream is far from what he had imagined. His toxic room-mate states upon his arrival that while the view from their window is beautiful “after thirty minutes it’s just boring”. Most of these workers have come here solely to work, whereas Robert is here to start a new life. He had felt the seeds of that new identity when he was in Poland, but it was that unsettled feeling that led him here. And when his mother follows him across the Baltic Sea, there’s yet another reason why he can’t just embrace his true self – and Ivar – even more.

This is a coming-of-age drama that has echoes of Alaska Is A Drag but without quite as much sparkle. Ivar is sweet, exuberant and authentic, while Robert struggles with all of the above. But like so many indies of its genre, it is the toxic masculinity of Robert’s origins that stands in between him and happiness. Grey, wet and bleak, the hard Norwegian landscape becomes a metaphor for Robert’s industrial life, where exploited workers’ calls to unionise play out counterpoint to the young man’s self-discovery.

The boys are certainly endearing enough and watching their chemistry makes for charming viewing. But this is well-trod territory for the last twenty years, so this is just a perfectly fine film for fans of the gay coming-of-age genre. For everyone else, this isn’t a stand-out.


UK Release: Out now on VOD, released by Peccadillo Pictures


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