ABERDEEN

UK/Norway/Sweden,  2000, 106 minutes

director.gif (905 bytes) Hans Petter Moland

CAST

Stellan Skarsgård - Tomas Heller
Lena Headey - Kaisa Heller
Charlotte Rampling - Helen
Ian Hart - Clive

SCREENPLAY BY

Kristin Amundsen, Lars Bill Lundholm
and Hans Petter Moland

PREMIERED

Karlovy Vary Film Festival in Czech Republic

on July 5, 2000


ACCOLADES

European Film Academy nominated Stellan for best actor

 



SYNOPSIS

Champagne is flowing and Kaisa is the lilfe of the party. Her London law firm has just given her a promtion and she is loving the attention The next morning Kaisa is woken by a telephone call from her mother, Helen, whom she’s tried to forget. Next to her lies a man whose name she can’t remember. Mom has a proposition. Find Tomas, her father, and bring him to Aberdeen for rehab – a new program where Tomas has accepted the role of ”guinea pig”. Kaisa has not seen Tomas since she left him in Oslo ten years ago. She accepts the job, knowing full well it’s going to be an ardous task.

With the skills of someone who’s grown up with an addict, she cajoles, threatens and drags Tomas in the general direction of Aberdeen. When Clive appears, they are both forced to re-examine their relationship and the real reason for their trip.

 

button_box.gif (205 bytes)PRODUCTION NOTES:

Filmed in Oslo and Bergen, Norway and Glasgow, Scotland. Moland developed the script at a Moonstone writing workshop on Skye. He got on well with John McGrath, Moonstone's founder and director, who arranged the financial deals, successfully applying for lottery funds, and sourced the locations. The Norsk Film project was budgeted at $4 million and began its eight-week shoot in Scotland in April 1999. Aberdeen's co-producer John McGrath, of Edinburgh-based Freeway Films, said it was Moland who came up with the title. He said: "Hans just loved the word Aberdeen. He thought it had something special, a certain ring to it." And John gave an apologetic explanation for leaving scenes of the city out of the film. He explained: "Most movies are never filmed in the place they're supposed to be set. There was a lot of filming in Scotland, but we never got as far as Aberdeen. Obviously, we would have liked to have come to Aberdeen, but could not because of the budget."

button_box.gif (205 bytes)FILM FESTIVALS:

  • Karlovy Vary Film Festival
  • Toronto Film Festival
  • Reykjavik Film Festival
  • Gothenburg Film Festival
  • Film by the Sea Film Festival
  • Hamptons International Film Festival
  • Helsinki International Film Festival

button_box.gif (205 bytes)FROM THE DIRECTOR:

Moland stresses that although he grew up in a family where there was alcohol abuse, it was not an autobiographical story. "It's more about a dysfunctional family, and the disruptive relationships within it," says Moland. "The addiction could be alcohol or drugs or anything else, but it deals with the problem it poses between people in the family, friends and relations. Although the situations described are tragic, humour is never very far away. And there is optimism, too, at the end. All the sadness, treachery and deception is swept away. I think everyone should be able to relate to it because it has universal themes about family relationships."

The film may not be autobiographical, but its themes are clearly close to Moland's heart. "This is a splintered family," he says, "and it's also about what happens when someone is dragged to a place they do not want to go. I have five children and I'm separated from my wife. Although we live in the same city, Oslo, I know how difficult it is to keep the family together when people get jobs or parents are separated. I thought of the links between Norway and Scotland, and I also happen to love the sound of Aberdeen. It is more than just a geographical place. The name actually has a melody to it."

Moland conceived the idea first as a short story when he was in his twenties. It took time for the concept to filter through to a point where he could treat it as dramatic material rather than something close to home.

"Unlike most road movies it is about travelling to a place rather than away from it," he explains. "I liked the juxtaposition of the two countries. Both are very hardy and rugged, share a stake in the oil industry, and - like the Norwegians - the Scots are fiercely independent of spirit."

button_box.gif (205 bytes)STELLAN DISCUSSES CO-STAR LENA HEADEY:

"Lena has the unique quality of producing true lives in front of the camera. She is very talented, and there is no vanity in her. She can be very beautiful, but she doesn't mind being ugly as well. And the lack of vanity is fantastic when it comes from such a beautiful girl. I don't think she is working hard to do big Hollywood movies, but she is so good that there will always be work for her as an actress."

button_box.gif (205 bytes)REVIEWS:

"Clenched and brooding, churning with rage and self-loathing, Tomas is one of the most realistic (and infuriating) drunks ever to reach the screen. Far from the lurching wild-eyed maniac of movie cliché, he is a furtive, cunning animal who grows meaner and more sullen the more booze he consumes. During his occasional attempts to remain sober, you can almost smell the sour sweat of his rising panic and desperation. In a performance that matches Mr. Skarsgard's in depth, Ms. Headey's Kaisa is a high-strung chip off the old block."   ...NY Times

"Skarsgård, who has made more than 40 films, including Lars von Trier's Breaking the Waves, is so convincing as the terminal-stage alcoholic that he makes Nicolas Cage's Academy Award-winning performance in Leaving Las Vegas look like amateur hour."  ...The Boston Herald

"In this quirky but deeply felt road film, Stellan Skarsgård gives a masterful performance as a drunk traveling with his estranged yuppie daughter (Lena Headey) to visit his dying ex (Charlotte Rampling)." ...People Weekly

"His two leads also deliver career-highlight performances. Playing an emotional distraught headcase, Headey is completely believable — something at which her underwhelming performances in such schlock as "Gossip" never hinted. Skarsgård is even better, playing a flawed, self-centered man who at first has no interest in anyone but himself, but who then comes to grips with his own selfishness."   ...Deseret News

"Unlike so many filmmakers, Norwegian-born, American-educated filmmaker Hans Petter Moland isn't interested in manipulation. He is a seeker of truth, especially those truths that underpin human relationships. With such a focus, his latest feature, Aberdeen, which won the Audience Award at last fall's Hamptons International Film Festival, is a magnificently acted, bold tale of a father-daughter relationship that is hard to shake."  ...Film Journal

"Skarsgård is one of the best actors currently working in film (see the original version of Insomina for further proof), and he brings real pain to his character's struggle for dignity. Headey delivers an impassioned, intelligent performance as Kaisa, who's managed to function with excellence in the legal field but has made a complete shambles out of the rest of her life, unable to connect emotionally with the rest of the world. Thank heaven for Hart's Clive, the voice of sanity they meet along the way, and the only reason they're able to finally get where they're going."    ...Daily Reviews

"Intelligent, moving and often beautifully photographed, Aberdeen boasts superb performances by Stellan Skarsgård, Ian Hart and the ravishing Lena Headey." ...NY Post

"Headey unquestionably has a gift, and Skarsgård is an accomplished actor. Note the stages of his moods as he imbibes and withdraws - his uninhibited cruelty building as he drinks and his appetite curdling when he doesn't."    ...Pittsburgh Tribune

"Stellan Skarsgård always turns in a solid performance in any movie he’s in, and Aberdeen is no exception. Here, his performance as the devastated alcoholic Tomas is chilling. He doesn’t just play “the drunk”: he captures the desperate need that leads him to humiliate himself for the sake of a gulp of alcohol, the bitterness of a life that’s unraveling, and the dreadful clarity of the moments of sobriety when he is perfectly aware of what the addiction has made of himself. Skarsgård’s performance is nicely complemented by Headey’s; she brings out the depths of the character of Kaisa, who is superficially confident and in control, but at her core also haunted by the specters of addiction, insecurity, and loss."  ...DVD Talk

"Skarsgård gives a shatteringly effective portrait of a man wrecked by alcoholism, with all of the ups and downs (mostly downs) and the terrible things of which he is capable because of his affliction."  ...Wolf Entertainment Guide

"Heartfelt performances from Lena Headey and Stellan Skarsgård light up Aberdeen." ...Cincinnati City Beat

"Headey and Skarsgård are remarkable in their emotional range, their ability to dig deep into the characters and find the souls each of them has buried beneath mounds of resentment or rivers of alcohol."   ...Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"At times it's awkward and forced, but Norwegian writer-director Hans Petter Moland ultimately compensates with poignancy--mostly thanks to the excellent Skarsgård, whose portrait of a trembling alcoholic's shameful desperation is a disquieting testament to the demon in the bottle."   ...Entertainment Weekly

"Stellan Skarsgård is a sensational drunk. He has captured the self-pity, the arrogance ("I'm outdated. It is unfashionable to have a mind of your own") and the humiliation perfectly..."  ...Insideout.co.uk

"Stellan Skarsgård gives a fearless performance as Tomas, an unlovable drunk and absentee father."  ...Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post

"Stellan Skarsgård is not your usual movie drunk...   Skarsgård puts an unsettling edge on Tomas, a gregarious and friendly drunk whose sloppy stumbling becomes more than simply embarrassing.   ...Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Stellan Skarsgård (Breaking the Waves) dredges up yet another gut-wrenching performance."   ...Library Journal

"Moland has again directed Skarsgård into a new frontier of dramatic acting, and what is probably the most nakedly convincing performance of his career (which has included the exacting "Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg," "Breaking the Waves" and "Insomnia"). If someone called him the best screen actor in English, which isn't even his first."  ...Newsday

"The cast delivers strong performances, Skarsgård's and Hart's understatement balancing Headey's fiery, breathtaking turn.   ...Sarasota Herald Tribune

"Superb performances by Stellan Skarsgård as an alcoholic absentee father and Lena Headey (pictured) as his hostile yuppie daughter."   ...Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Few contemporary actors can match Skarsgård's passion and range, and he's just as convincing here as a volatile, ineffectual lush as he was in Ronin as a taciturn, methodical thief."   ...Time Out NY

"Electrifying acting. Skarsgård's subtly self-loathing take on Tomas is impressive, maintaining a degree of audience sympathy even when his character is at its most frustrating and pathetic."   ...The Movie Report

"Swedish-born actor Stellan Skarsgård has played a catalog of loutish, dissolute, unraveling characters in such films as Breaking the Waves, Insomnia, Time Code and Signs & Wonders. But in Hans Petter Moland's first English-language film, Aberdeen, Skarsgard gives what may be his most courageous and fascinating performance."  ...Hartford Courant

"Ultimately moving melordrama of family trauma and reconcilation. Moving because of the performances: not since Bruno Ganz has an actor fulfilled the role of existential Everyman as redolently as Stellan Skarsgård."    ...Boston Phoenix

"Anchored by two fearless performances -- yet another commanding characterization by Swedish-born Stellan Skarsgård and a fiery turn that announces Yorkshire native Lena Headey as a formidable dramatic talent."   ...Variety

"The actors give distinctive performances: Skarsgård is exceptional, subtly showing the pain and self-loathing beneath Tomas' alcoholic haze as he's forced to confront his past, and Headey effectively conveys Kaisa's toughness and hostility as well as her emotional transformation."    ...Boxoffice Magazine

"It's the acting that makes Aberdeen so remarkable, primarily the two stunning lead performances - by Scots actress Lena Headey as Kaisa, the nervy executive, and the great Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård as Tomas, her father. Headey gives a performance of almost unrestrained vitriol, tearing along from argument to argument, fix to fix. Hart is wonderfully gentle and sturdy, Rampling moving. But it's Skarsgård who makes the film special, portraying the drunken, sottish, ashamed Tomas with such deep understanding and lack of vanity that your heart bleeds for him, breaks for them all. This magnificent actor takes us deep into his character and into the anguish that hangs on him like his frayed coat." ...Chicago Tribune

"I haven't previously been an enthusiast for Stellan Skarsgård, but one is forced to judge an actor by the roles he gets. Here he has, in more than sheer prominence, a major role; and as the stormy, befuddled, riven Tomas, Skarsgård kept reminding me--the highest compliment I could pay a Scandinavian actor - of Max von Sydow.  ...The New Republic

"It's hard to imagine anyone other than Skarsgård as Tomas - his transition from shambling, fuzzy, sweaty wreck to clean-shaven, smart-suited father/husband is careful, tentative (the scene where he orders iced water at a bar well-stocked with whiskies is the film's highlight) and refreshingly free of actorly mannerism...  Skarsgård, Headey and Hart are never less than totally convincing"    ...Jigsaw Lounge (UK)

"Unwilling to soften the bitterness or anger of their characters, Headey and Skarsgård bring a painful honesty to their performances."  ...Screen Daily

IMAGES

aberdeen1t.jpg (13125 bytes)

aberdeen2t.jpg (14055 bytes)

aberdeen3t.jpg (16051 bytes)

 

aberdeen5t.jpg (13097 bytes)

aberdeen6t.jpg (16400 bytes)

aberdeen8t.jpg (21006 bytes)