Tribeca 2012: ‘Jackpot’ is sick, twisted, and hilarious

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Jackpot
Written by Magnus Martens
Directed by Magnus Martens
Norway, 2011

Perhaps the cold in Norway brings something ugly out of people, or perhaps the ugliness was always there and the cold is merely a coincidence. The new Norwegian comedy Jackpot doesn’t take an opinion either way, but instead simply drops the ugliness on a plate and garnishes it up with so much absurdity that it will be impossible not to laugh.

Oskar (Kyrre Hellum) and three of his co-workers hit the top prize in a soccer-picking lottery, with more than 1.7 million kroner to split between them. As one might imagine, that’s not the end of their problems, but merely the beginning, as they start turning on each other before their celebratory bender is even finished. Then the best-laid plans to get away with the resulting murders go wrong, and the best-laid backup plans go wrong, leading to more problems which will require more best-laid plans…

Director Magnus Martens keeps the pace up-tempo, which is important for selling Oskar’s shell-shocked mood; his world is constantly out of his control, and the scenes need to be kept short or he (and the audience) might think, “hey, can’t I just get out of it by doing X?” In fact the only problem with Hellum’s performance is that he’s a little too everyman; whenever the film tries to adopt the position of the detective investigating the murders (Henrik Mestad) that Oskar might be guilty, it’s not as sincere.

Martens also keeps the film very bloody without wallowing in the gore; in fact, the most disgusting scene in Jackpot is an extended vomit joke. It would be very easy to botch this material with bad pacing or an incorrect tone – one example of such a movie is Peter Berg’s Very Bad Things – and so he deserves most of the credit for taking a film about people murdering each other horribly out of greed and making it engaging and hilarious.

Mark Young

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