To many, U – July 22 should not exist. Putting aside that debate for a moment, the skill at play in 22 is certainly worthy of praise: Erik Poppe and DoP Martin Otterbeck capture the 72-minute attack in a single take, a breathless rush of chaos yielding only to long, hard silences in a harrowing staccato.
Fronted by an emotive central performance by 19 year-old Andrea Berntzen as Kaja, Siv Rajendram Eliassen and Anna Bache-Wiig’s script deftly tells one story while making it feel like a thousand. Kaja shows tremendous bravery amid a waking nightmare, but so did every child on Utøya that day – not to mention those caught up in similar attacks around the world.
While the mere concept of this reconstruction is too egregious for some, U – July 22 rightfully steers clear of gratuity or exploitation. The killer’s identity is not important, nor is his motivation or even his physical appearance in the film. 22 avoids crass brutality and keeps the on-screen violence to an absolute minimum, focusing on the psychological trauma inflicted upon these children as much as it does on the appalling loss of life.
22 has been compiled from the recollections of survivors, and the film captures how events like these impact well beyond the physical casualties. Those involved are forced into horrific circumstances and unimaginable decisions, and when the closing credits list the number of psychological victims of the attack, 22 acknowledges their stories.
To many, U – July 22 should not exist. This is certainly true, as this subject matter should not exist. But as long as attacks like this occur it is vital that we are exposed to the horrors of such acts – to drive us to do something to stop them. Distressing and stomach-churning, U – July 22 rightfully lingers well after the credits have rolled.
CAST: Andrea Berntzen, Aleksander Holmen, Brede Fristad
DIRECTOR: Erik Poppe
WRITERS: Anna Bache-Wiig, Siv Rajendram Eliassen
SYNOPSIS: We meet Kaja (18) 12 minutes before the first shot is fired at the Utøya summer camp July 22 2011, which is soon to be the worst day in modern Norway’s history. They know about Anders Behring Breivik’s bomb in Oslo, but is he here now?[TRAILER FORTHCOMING]