‘Mortal’ is a return to Norway for André Øverdal which is where he shot his breakthrough feature film ‘Trollhunter’, he then headed over to the U.K. for the coroner two-hander ‘The Autopsy of Jane Doe’, and then made his way to America where he hooked up with Guillermo Del Toro for the adaptation of the children’s fairy tale book series, ‘Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark’. Øverdal has apparently been directing films since he was a young boy, but his first credited feature is the little seen sci-fi film ‘Future Murder’ from 1997, which he made while he was attending college at the Brooks Institute of Photography, when they were based in Santa Barbara, California. He wouldn’t direct a film again until the found footage creature feature ‘Trollhunter’ in 2010, which like ‘Mortal’ also celebrates his Norwegian roots. In between those two films, he was a commercial director and was celebrated as one of the top commercial directors in Norway.
Nat Wolf plays Eric, when we meet him in the very beginning of the story, Eric is a young man that looks like he has been through the gutter, who knows how long he has been traveling on this lost road that he’s on. He has these mysterious powers that he can’t control, that seem to have to do with weather elements, like fire and water. He ends up having an encounter with a group of boys who are taunting him, and he tries to give one of the boys an indirect warning that he can’t control his powers, which leads that boy to fatal consequences. This kicks off one of two secondary stories in the film, where a father seeks revenge on Eric for what he has done to his taunting son. Another secondary story involves a government agent named Hathaway (Priyanka Bose) who is chasing down and trying to capture Eric. Both these secondary stories come off jumbled within Eric’s main story with Iben Akerlie’s character Christine, who is sent in as a psychologist to treat Eric when he is first captured by the police. She is the one that ends up accompanying Eric on his journey where they end up discovering his true origins.
“The ending of a story can change everything that once preceded it.”
-Lulu Wang’s ‘Posthumous’
And so it goes in André Øverdal’s new film, his take on the super hero genre and his attempt to regain the Thor mythology to its Norse origins. And that’s kind of what the story is like as well, it plays like a Marvel characters origin story. It’s not a bad effort from Øverdal, but while watching this film without knowing the reveal, it comes off as a “seen it already” kinda thang, which makes it kinda bland. And by the time it does actually get to the final reveal, that our “hero” could possibly be an heir to Odin, I feel like Øverdal must have felt like this was going to have a greater impact on its audience than how it ends up coming across. And maybe it is to its native people of Norway, they might just be giving this film a standing ovation when that moment comes. But I’m sure the Norwegians must also feel cheated in a way, as this is supposed to be a film to celebrate Norwegian culture, than why is it that an American actor (Nat Wolf) is leading us there? It’s possible that decision came down to a money issue, where they needed a name to secure financing. They are able to pull off quite a lot with the budget they were able to secure with its various exotic locations and special effects, but then again, in Norway, they double whatever budget the filmmakers are able to raise. I only wish the United States celebrated and revered its arts and culture in such a way.