A Brief Commentary & Review of Virgin Mountain
Directed and produced by Dagur Kári
By John Bennison,
Mountain Shadow Director
Islands in the stream, that is what we are
No one in between, how can we be wrong
Sail away with me to another world
And we rely on each other, uh huh.
Song bythe BeeGees, sung by Dolly and Kenny, of course!
What kind of a birthday present do you give a painfully awkward, middle-aged man who still lives with his mother, is grossly overweight and developmentally stunted? How about a cowboy hat and line-dancing lessons?
“It’s scientifically proven,” his mother’s boyfriend explains to Fúsi, “that dance stimulates endorphin production in your brain.”
“What’s that?” Fúsi asks?
‘It’s the happy-enzyme, man!” the old guy replies.
But for Fúsi, any mature sense of happiness is something that is painfully missing. If you’ve got two left feet, so to speak, how does this virgin mountain of a man even dare try to take the first step and learn the two-step?
Fúsi is a baggage handler at the airport, where he spends his days handling everyone else’s arrivals and departures. Unfortunately, it suits him well. He goes about his day as if in a fog-shrouded trance. Except for another adult with whom he re-enacts miniature battle scenes, there’s only a young, curious girl in his neighborhood who befriends him. But that only makes him further suspect in the eyes of others; while he’s bullied and mercilessly taunted by fellow workers.
Fúsi’s monotonous life is only periodically broken up by trips to the toy store, or solitary dining at the only Asian restaurant in Reykjavik. His only forays into the adult world are his call-in requests to a DJ’s radio show.
Enter Sjöfn, a spunky, but seriously flawed chick who introduces Fúsi to a whirlwind of new experiences he could hardly have conjured up for himself.
Next, what would have otherwise be considered a curious, but rather sad character study becomes instead a love story type that is anything but Hollywood-type romance comedy. Fúsi becomes an urban cowboy, Icelandic-style. If you’re looking for the kind of love where boy meets girl and they live happily ever after, you’re looking for love in all the wrong places when it comes to a storyline like Virgin Mountain.
This is the filmmaker’s gift for those who can appreciate something more subtly and meaningfully real. In short order, Fúsi goes through all the pains of growing up; from the innocence and naiveté of childhood to a kind of mature and compassionate affection some adults never achieve.
But in the process of steppin’ out, Fúsi instead falls head over heels into a deeper kind of love; with a generosity of spirit and altruistic care that surpasses any happily-ever-after “islands in the sun” kind of romance.
And, as a result -- by the end of this tale -- Fúsi can pack his own bag and sail away to another world on his own two feet. jb