“Norway 1363. Ten years have passed since the Black Death killed half the population . The land is barren and the lawlessness is raging.”
So wait, this isn’t Escape: The Musical?
Signe and her brother — don’t get too attached — are in a wagon being pulled by one horse with their parents along side on foot. While stopped for some grub — probably literally grub — Pa is teaching the kids to shoot a bow. The boy does OK, but Signe lacks patience. I’d love to say this was testing my patience as well, but there is something immediately captivating about the setting, the family and the score (little bit of a Dances with Wolves thing going on).
Four minutes in, the family is attacked by 14th century gangstas busting arrows & axes in their ass, caps having hot yet been invented. Signe, being maybe 15, has some value, so is spared. The gang is led by a woman, Dagmar, who wants to use her to create a little sister for another young girl they’ve adopted (i.e. also murdered her parents). The men in her crew support this concept too, but maybe for a different reason.
The other little girl, with the unlikely name Frigg, sneaks some water to Signe who the gang has chained in camp. Dagmar catches her and threatens to make her cut off one of Signe’s fingers. The next morning Frigg shows up with a knife, and not only doesn’t cut off a finger, she lets Signe go.
The two homely, homely girls escape the camp and the gangstas take off after them through the woods. From this point on, it is really just a chase with the girls picking off their pursuers. But that’s enough.
The girls aren’t Rambo. There is no crazy kung fu wire-work. There are no elaborate traps set. When Signe attacks a man who has 100 pounds on her, she is just as ineffectual as you would expect in reality. They just use their wits, and take advantage of situations. Their drab looks and clothing lend a credibility to the scenes as does the use of the woods and rivers.
It would be tough for a story to get much simpler than this and still have images moving around on the screen. Signe looks a little like Jennifer Lawrence, but this is no Hunger games; no fancy story, just a simple, picturesque thriller. The girls are both great. Of the cast, Dagmar could have benefited most from a deeper characterization, but that would be a different movie. In short, everything on the screen works, and I didn’t miss anything that was not in there. And at 78 minutes with about 6 minutes of credits, it never lags. Highly recommended.
- Original title in Norway: Flukt. Starring Frigg.
- Signe by Eric Clapton.