Friday, 6 April 2012


Last month was the hottest March in the UK for 83 years. The thermometer has since dropped and there’s a snow warning from Scotland but March served as a taste for this summer to come; short skirts and bare legs with no brassieres; the London Olympics, the European Football Championships and blockbuster movies.

Prometheus 2012 opens 8th June in the US and stars Noomi Rapace. This will be her coming out party to the American movie going public but in Europe she’s already known as the star of the Millennium travesty trilogy. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 2009 and its sequels are risible. The only good thing about those films is Rapace. Her performances are star turning. Hollywood noticed hence her slew of subsequent high profile pictures1.

Before Hollywood there was Babycall 2011. It was released in its native Norway last year and opened in UK theatres last Friday 30th March. All the major newspapers have reviewed this low budget Euro flick for one reason – Noomi Rapace.

She really is a movie star – at least in England.
The Norwegian trailer played it as horror but Babycall is psychological drama. It exists within that subgenre dominated by Les Diabolique 1955 and Repulsion 1965 directed by the child rapist Roman Polanski. Babycall is a girl-gone-mad film. The question posed to the audience is whether the lead is going crazy or is she being stalked.

Rapace plays a single mother estranged from her husband. Something happened before the start of the story for Anna is frightful and skittish. She and her son are moved into a safe house. She is so scared for her boy she has him sleep in her bed. He’s eight years old. He wants to sleep in his own room. She acquiesces but buys a baby monitor – a babycall – so she can hear him while she sleeps.
 She does hear voices in the babycall – but it’s not her son.
The working class/unemployed single mother is a harried animal. When such a creature is separated from or has no blood relatives then loneliness is her adult companion. Isolation is anti-human. It can lead to lunacy.

Anna is an urban statistic. She is under the cosh from her ever present absent husband, social services, the school, the courts. Rapace’s portrayal of her is Jimmy Hendrix with a guitar. The rest of the cast aren’t bad either. Everyone is toned down even if Kristoffer Joner as the potential love interest overdoes it a tad.

The world these characters live in is a housing estate designed by a Soviet commissar circa The Great Leap Forward. It looks like Birmingham in the 70s. Anyone – everyone – who lives there would aspire to get out.  Concept. Characters. Setting. This is where the film succeeds. Then it abruptly stops.

I sometimes give foreign films leeway because I’m not cognisant of their culture and I don’t know how their story constructs work. Bollywood movies and J-Horror films can zap off into seemingly incongruous directions. A Tale of Two Sisters 2003 being a case in point (the least said about incongruous Hollywood movies the better). At the end of Psycho 1960 Alfred Hitchcock decided to explain the plot to the audience. It wasn’t necessary. At the end of Babycall it doesn’t help. Writer/director Pål Sletavne didn’t finish the script.
The Great Scandinavian Hope
Rapace will always have a Hollywood trivia degree of separation from Rooney Mara. The latter played her character in the American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 2011. Mara has denounced2 her earlier work A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 (another remake). Good for her. I denounced it too. It would be a shame if Rapace denounces Babycall. The film collapses under its paper thin script but is elevated by her bravura. The analogy could be that of a beautiful woman in a massage parlour. Even men who don’t like prostitutes would visit her.

This British trailer corrects the deceit of the Norwegian effort. It firmly establishes the correct tone of the film.

US release date to be announced.

Read more Thrill Fiction: The Caller
1 Noomi Rapace IMDb
2 Rooney Mara DigitalSpy
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