The film rollicks as a witty ensemble character study, but the ending, though cutely bildungsromanic, cannot help but disappoint a little as far as the unfulfilled promise of grand gains and Icelandic mythological magic. Starring Margret Vilhjalmsdottir, Ugla Egilsdottir, Heino Ferch and Hilmir Snaer Gudnason. Directed and written by Agust Gudmundsson. Produced by Kristin Atladottir. A Cinema Guild release. Comedy. Not yet rated. Running time: 105 min
The Seagull's Laughter
This 1950s-set Icelandic comedy is not quite black but is at least as dark as the heart of Freya (a pitch-perfect Margret Vilhjalmsdottir), a twentysomething beauty who enjoys a dramatic homecoming when she returns to her birthplace, a small fishing town near Reykjavik, after living in America for more than a decade. Having left as a plump wallflower, she is now transformed with a stylish wardrobe, a sleek figure and an elegant air--as well as an implacable grudge against those who snubbed her in the past. And anyone who crosses her gets a dose of wrath that puts them in the hospital--or the morgue. Meanwhile, those to whom she casts a friendly glance immediately fall under her spell--except for young cousin Agga (the fantastic Ugla Egilsdottir), a 13-year-old with a Christina Ricci countenance, a keen intelligence and a brusque confidence well beyond her years, though her mercurial temper is acutely teenaged. Still, with little else to do, Agga can't help but get caught up in the outrageous antics of her imperious relative, who in short order turns her hometown upside-down, alternately shocking, beguiling and liberating its denizens.