Gerainger is a real-life tourist destination, trustingly nestled in the cascading folds of mountains and temperamental lakes. It’s also stuck in the shadow of Åkerneset, an unstable mountain that experts say could cause a devastating tsunami. It’s this hypothetical tsunami that comes crashing down on Gerainger in a compelling bit of speculative cinema.
The Wave starts with real news footage of previous tidal catastrophes and ends with the ominously confident prediction that it will happen again. It makes you feel like fleeing to a flat plane somewhere, anywhere, far away from the disastrous marriage of water and moving plates of rock. At the very least, you might decide to holiday somewhere drier.
There is great voyeuristic delight to be had in seeing cataclysm from a distance, of course, but some of that delight comes before anything terrible has happened. Gerainger, a real-life location, is perched in achingly sublime natural surroundings, all stunning mountains and vast crystal-clear lakes. The soaring musical score lulls away any apprehension.
It’s in this sublime location that we’re introduced to ruggedly handsome Kristof, a geologist who monitors the mountains with his team of cuddlesome Scandi colleagues and enjoys a steady soulful family life. All the while, the mountains stand deadly silent. Experts and tourists gently pad around on the surface, oblivious. Unsurprisingly, things don’t stay this way for long.
An indie disaster flick, The Wave is more like the Swedish film Force Majeure (2014) than the usual CGI-heavy blockbuster. Both films are about ordinary, wholesome families being tested by nature. Like Force Majeure, The Wave excels in emphasising the human element of disaster. A particularly harrowing scene involves Kristof’s wife’s brief transformation from mother to monster: under pressure in an alarming situation, Idun (Ane Dahl Torp) must perform a barbaric act in front of her adolescent son.
There’s something almost Freudian about how the mother-son and father-daughter relationships are forced to go through unexpected developments in the space of a few hours. Such attention to psychology is unusual for a film where people run down corridors, screaming, pursued by frothy water.
Let’s hope that the geologists of Gerainger are being extra-vigilant. The Wave is a man-versus-nature thriller to be taken with no pinch of salt.
|What||The Wave film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
12 Aug 16 – 12 Oct 16, Times vary
|Website||Click here for more details|