Life in a Fishbowl: an intricate portrait of a Reykjavik in flux

Award-winning Icelandic director Baldvin Zophoníasson’s drama Life in a Fishbowl (Vonarstræti) explores a Reykjavik family shocked by tragedy. It weaves between the fates of its three main characters, until they find themselves inextricably linked by key moments that will affect the rest of their lives. It will be available on VoD from 28 November as part of our Award Winning Dramas collection.

The lives of the three main characters won’t follow the same trajectory. Eik (Hera Hilmarsdottir) is bringing up her eight-year-old daughter by herself. By day, she’s a childminder, by night she sells her body to satisfy the needs of others. Of course, she could turn to her family for help, but for a reason that becomes increasingly obvious as the story goes on, she refuses as far as she can to be dependent on those that have caused her so much suffering. Mori (Thorsteinn Bachmann) hasn’t published any books in years. He drowns his sorrows and his poems in alcohol, shut away from the world, lost in his memories. Only writing and his encounter with Eik and her daughter manage to bring him back into the here and now. Sölvi (Thor Kristjansson) is in the middle of a full-blown career change. After a glorious sporting career, he sees himself as an estate agent, and discovers, under the watchful eye of his loving wife, what goes on behind the closed doors of the rich and affluent.

Through these three characters, who are so far apart yet so close in the cocoon town of Reykjavik, Life in a Fishbowl tackles a multitude of issues which resonate strongly in today’s contemporary society: the economic crisis and the collective bankruptcy caused by the hysteria of some people, the greed for land of the great globalised elite, the ability of human beings to miss out on the second chances that life throws up, the burden of family secrets and the painful obliviousness of those closest to us, the distance between and depersonalisation of people who nonetheless bump into each other in their daily lives, the vulnerability of the family unit, and the isolation of single-parent families.

In this sense, Life in a Fishbowl is an aggregate film, the sum of its three lines of narrative that collide with one another then blend together, offering a glimpse into various aspects of contemporary society, building unlikely bridges.

Life in a Fishbowl met with great success in Iceland, where it dominated the box office in 2014. It bagged 12 Edda awards, the local equivalent of Oscars, most notably for Bachmann and Hilmar. The film also took home the award for Best Film, and for Best Director for Baldvin Zophoníasson, who, despite having a short list of films to his name (Life in a Fishbowl is only his second film), is already establishing himself as a major player of Icelandic cinema.

Source: Cineuropa

Life in a fishbowl – Trailer:

24 November 2016, by Cineuropa