By Don Simpson | March 4, 2016
Director: Roar Uthaug
Writers: John Kåre Raake, Harald Rosenløw-Eeg
Starring: Kristoffer Joner, Thomas Bo Larsen, Ane Dahl Torp, Fridtjov Såheim, Jonas Hoff Oftebro, Arthur Berning, Laila Goody, Edith Haagenrud-Sande, Eili Harboe
Taking a cue from Jaws, Roar Uthaug’s The Wave is set in a quaint waterside village where the sole economic industry is tourism. But just as the tourist buses begin to roll in to Geiranger, a well-respected geologist, Kristian (Kristoffer Joner), begins to notice signs that a devastating tsunami might not be far away. Of course, no one wants to take the chance that Kristian might be correct, because that would mean losing a lot of potential revenue.
The catastrophe that Kristian so ardently fears has happened in Geiranger at least once before, most recently in 1905. Everyone knows that it is only a matter of time until it will happen again. Thanks to detailed documentation of the 1905 event, Kristian and his fellow geologists know that if they wait until the mountain begins to collapse into the water, they will only have 10 minutes to evacuate everyone to higher ground.
It is worth noting that Kristian has recently “sold out,” having accepted a new job that will require him to wear a suit and relocate his family to the big city. So, his tsunami theory is shrugged off by everyone as last minute jitters about his career decision and a ploy to stay in Geiranger a little bit longer. Kristian’s behavior and choices are cleverly juxtaposed with those of his rational and highly capable wife, Idun (Ane Dahl Torp). An early scene sets up this ongoing comparison as Idun handily repairs their kitchen sink, while Kristian helplessly does not even know what a plumber’s wrench looks like.
Armed with countless cinematic clichés and not-so-sly references, The Wave is just as predictable as most disaster films. Screenwriters John Kåre Raake and Harald Rosenløw-Eeg attempt to interject a moral warning about allowing finances to drive important decisions, whether it be a family’s happiness or the safety of an unsuspecting village, but that part of the narrative is washed away once the wave becomes a reality.
That said, naturalistic performances, methodical pacing and menacing tone add a certain uniqueness to Uthaug’s film. And despite the film’s modest budget (reportedly €6 million), John Christian Rosenlund’s cinematography and Nina Nordqvist’s production design certainly makes The Wave look like a lavish production.