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Directed by Gudmundur Arnar Gudmundsson
129 min | 2016 | Iceland | Not Rated
Presented in Icelandic with English subtitles.
Rural Iceland is the stuff of tourist brochures and epic cinema, but in Heartstone, director Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson’s film, it’s a lonely place to be young and queer. Best friends Thor (Baldur Einarsson) and Christian (Blær Hinriksson) must navigate the tricky journey from childhood to adolescence in a remote Icelandic village where each lives in a dysfunctional home. Thor is the only boy in his single-mother household and must constantly defend himself from his bullying older sisters, while Christian endures an abusive, alcoholic father.
Breathtaking cinematography and the stark near cruelty of the landscape amplify the struggles of these two characters as they deal with everything from not having pubic hair to stealing a neighbor’s horses for an overnight camping trip. As the two boys start exploring their sexuality, Thor develops a crush on a local girl, while Christian realizes he is in love with his best friend. After his drunken father beats a man he thinks is gay, Christian hides his secret even deeper. And when Christian’s true feelings for Thor are revealed, it opens the door for a terrible tragedy that may divide the friends forever. But in the end, the bond they share is deep, heartfelt, and unbreakable.
— Nancy Eaves
Winner: The Queer Lion–2016 Venice Film Festival; Official Selection: 2016 Toronto International Film Festival