My personal finale from the Adelaide Film Festival 2015 is Fúsi (Virgin Mountain) – a bitter-sweet drama and subtle comedy from Iceland. The film by Dagur Kári introduces us to Fúsi (Gunnar Jónsson), an awkward and terribly shy 43-year old man who still lives with his mum. He works at the airport, moving luggage in and out of the plane and takes pleasure in recreating the El Alamein battle landscape in his living room. Because of his shyness, he is bullied by his workmates – who try to break him and get him out of his shell. When his mother’s boyfriend gives him a voucher to a line-dancing class for his birthday, Fúsi is forced to get out of his comfort zone – and meet Sjöfn (Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir) – an ex-florist who suffers from depression. Through his friendship and quasi-relationship with Sjöfn that perhaps he has the ability to love and get out of his shell.
Fúsi navigates itself carefully through the story without invoking self-pity. Whilst we feel sorry that Fúsi has to experience bullying, loneliness and heartache, Dagur Kári is careful not to steer the movie into a depressing melodramatic story. He presents Fúsi as somebody who needs to be loved and understood, and that friendship is never as simple as two people meeting and striking a chord. There is a level of expectations on how one should behave, and what is appropriate. This message is subtly presented through Fúsi’s experiences.
I appreciate that the movie doesn’t try to please the viewers as well in neatly wrapping everything before the credit titles roll. This doesn’t mean that the movie doesn’t have a happy ending. On the contrary, it ends on a sweet note – showing how much lovable he is as a man and that his journey has just truly begun at the age of 43.
The movie gives me a nice heartwarming ending to the Adelaide Film Festival – after seeing four quite serious, thought-provoking and gut-punching stories, I end it on a lighter note that doesn’t leave a sacchariney or a sickly sweet sensation. I can’t wait for the next Adelaide Film Festival, but unfortunately I have to wait until 2017!