Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Cast: Ólafur Darri Ólafsson
Watch The Deep online in the UK: TalkTalk TV / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
There’s something about Scandinavians and boats. After A Hijacking’s documentary-like thriller turned our nerves into Danish pastry, along comes The Deep, a chilly, surprising drama that impales your expectations on an iceberg.
Ólafur Darri Ólafsson plays Gulli, a trawler man who always wanted to work on the local village’s ships. When he isn’t at sea, he lives with his parents, gets into punch-ups at bars and dreams of wooing the woman who lives across the way. It’s a quiet, uneventful life – until one night, when a fishing trip runs into a storm, capsizing the whole crew.
Contraband director Baltasar Kormákur makes sure he takes the time to settle into Gulli’s mundane existence before he presses the disaster button – a slow-build that makes the sinking all the more shocking. Friends and colleagues soon disappear in a soggy swirl of woolly jumpers and beards, leaving Gulli to tread water in the middle of nowhere.
Kormákur turns the isolation dial to 11 as Gulli tries to swim for the shore. A flurry of flashbacks in grainy 16mm take us back through his childhood before the camera drifts, lying on its back and gazing at the Northern Lights. It’s a delicate mix of formats and memories that keeps things dynamic without distracting from our understated lead.
Ólafur Darri Ólafsson is a perfect fit for the role, talking to seagulls and sulking in bars with a believably deflated air. His inspiring journey is made even more fascinating by Kormákur’s decision to keep the cameras rolling far longer than most survival flicks. Prodded by scientists and pestered by worldwide fans, The Deep delves into Gulli’s remarkable true story for an explanation and comes up with nothing – sometimes, the truth itself is moving enough.