Solitude: A Farmer in the City

English Daily #1
Solitude (Ninna Pálmadóttir, Iceland/Slovakia, 2023) Full-Length Films Competition, 8-7 10:00 House of Cinema Grand Hall, 20:00 Moscow Cinema Blue Hall

Gunnar, who has spent his entire life in nature far from the city, is forced to sell his house and land to the state and move to Reykjavik. In the capital, he strikes up an unexpected friendship with Ari, a ten-year-old boy who lives next door. Ari's closest friend has moved away, and his parents are always busy, hardly ever spending time with their son. The bond between these two disparate solitudes becomes the basis for a story of an idealized father-son relationship. The director simply follows their daily life as they play chess, listen to music, and watch TV.

Underneath this, however, a political subtext emerges. The relentless urbanization threatens rural lifestyles, severing people from their cultural and familial roots. Meanwhile, through radio and TV reports, we learn that the migrant and refugee crisis has reached Iceland: an Afghan family is facing imminent deportation.

Screenwriter Rúnar Rúnarsson and director Ninna Pálmadóttir (marking her feature debut with Solitude), do not resort to the typical Leviathan-like narrative of a conflict between the state and the individual. The protagonist, initially appearing sullen and stern, defies audience expectations by seeking his place in the city. Rather than fighting the world, he strives to be useful, donating his state compensation to refugees. However, the rules of the game prove far more complex: his honest, straightforward, and righteous efforts only breed suspicion and misconception.

Despite futile attempts to rebuild his life after losing his family home to the waters, the creators offer a glimmer of hope for the misunderstood protagonist. We are left to wonder: will he dare to take another step toward the world?

Alexander Melyan