A gently amusing road movie with a warm worldview, decent sense of silliness, and lack of any challenges to its audience, Henrik Martin Dahlsbakken’s Going West is one of those European films that feels destined to be remade for American audiences in a couple of years’ time. It’s a low-key affair, with a tiny cast, following recently fired music teacher Kasper (Benjamin Helstad) and his transvestite father Georg (Ingar Helge Gimle) across Norway to a remote island, in order to enter Kasper’s late mother’s last quilt into the national championships.
It’s a kitschy premise, which informs the film’s generally lighthearted tone, and the occasional attempts to wring greater emotion out of events mostly fall short, but Going West is eminently watchable when sticking to less dramatically ambitious scenes. Some sequences come out of nowhere, and on the whole the film doesn’t hang together all that well, but at a mere 80 minutes it never wears out its welcome, and at its best you find yourself wishing you could live in its world, if only for a bit.
For the most part, Going West is a series of distinct mini-chapters on Kasper and Georg’s journey. Some, like the pair being put in charge of a baby while its parents chase after their older children, and an extended stay on Georg’s old flame’s farm, work well. Others, like Kasper being caught up in a store robbery, really don’t. The stakes are never particularly high and consequences for misguided actions are minimal, making for a very slight viewing experience.
At its core, Going West is an ode to honest sincerity, even if this can get lost behind flurries of quirkiness. Georg and Kasper find that their quest is always aided by kind strangers when they are emotionally open, a sweet message that makes this uneven film worthwhile.
CAST: Benjamin Helstad, Ingar Helge Gimle, Iben Akerlie
DIRECTOR: Henrik Martin Dahlsbakken
WRITER: Henrik Martin Dahlsbakken
SYNOPSIS: Would-be music teacher Kasper lost his beloved mother Irene some months ago. Before she passed away she implored him to ‘do something fun with Dad’, but Kasper and his rather unconventional father Georg have since struggled to connect.[TRAILER FORTHCOMING]