FANTASTIC FEST 2011
By Don Simpson | September 27, 2011
Director: Grímur Hákonarson
Writer: Grímur Hákonarson, Ólafur Egilsson
Starring: Ólafía Hrönn Jónsdóttir, Kjartan Guðjónsson, Snorri Engilbertsson, Hallfríður Þóra Tryggvadóttir, Arnbjörg Hlíf Valsdóttir, Nokkvi Helgason
Óskar runs a ghost house and his wife Lára is a medium (the titular Summerland is where people’s spirits go when they die); in addition to ghosts, Lára can also communicate with their elvin neighbors who reside in the giant elf stone in their backyard. For Óskar, these are their careers and they function together — with the assistance of their daughter and son — as a family business.
The problem is, their family business does not generate enough income to pay the mortgages on their home. Óskar is therefore faced with a very difficult decision: sell their elf stone to a pair of gay art collectors from Germany or lose their home. Óskar does what he thinks is right, but it has repercussions that he never imagined.
Icelandic writer-director Grímur Hákonarson’s film is essentially about faith — religious and spiritual faith, but also faith in family, in nature, in scientific facts, as well as in activism. Summerland is also about accepting others, even when they put faith in something different than you do.
Hákonarson walks a fine line, never patronizing of Óskar, Lára and their new agey lifestyle. We may never see any elves, but we do see ghosts. So, for all we know, Lára could be the real deal. Maybe elves do exist or maybe what has been attributed to elves is actually just mother nature standing up for herself? What do you want to believe?