By David Baldwin
Sarah (Lydia Leonard) is a successful building developer in London with a well-guarded secret: she is deathly afraid of flying. To overcome her crippling fear, she joins the ‘Fearless Flyers’ course alongside other individuals suffering from Aerophobia. The final test is a trip on a real plane, which happens to coincide with the day Sarah is supposed to be going on vacation with her boyfriend and his daughter. And what should be a simple trip to Iceland becomes an ordeal no one saw coming.
NORTHERN COMFORT, named after an Icelandic beverage, is a cringe-inducing comedy that will have you wincing and laughing just as often as you are absolutely terrified for these poor souls. Co-Writer/Director Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson puts the whole gang through absolute hell on their journey to getting over their fear and then delights in reshuffling the deck and completely changing the game in the second half of the Film. It manages to maintain the same tone throughout thankfully, but the jarring number of subplots becomes a lot to digest, as does the fleeting directions the Film continuously wanders into. When it is simply about Sarah and her journey, the Film is fairly solid. When it diverts into showcasing the supporting characters’ half-baked agendas, it gets a little lost in the weeds (or blowing snow drifts as it were).
That said, the Cast which Sigurðsson has put together here is game for anything and relishes in the madness that ensues. Leonard does a great job carrying the Film and balances the comedy and scarier elements quite well. Simon Manyonda has a whole lot of fun as an instructor who is in way over his pay grade, while comedian Rob Delaney drops in for an eyebrow raising extended cameo. Who really lets loose however is Timothy Spall, who goes for broke from start to finish. I only really know him as a dramatic actor (and as that rat of a wizard Peter Pettigrew from the Harry Potter series), so seeing him as the radically unhinged Edward was just as wild and chaotic as all the mayhem he gets up to in the Film. He is having a blast and easily steals the show.
NORTHERN COMFORT screens at SXSW ’23 as follows:
Mar 12 at 2:00pm at Stateside Theatre
Mar 13 at 6:15pm at Rollins Theatre at The Long Center
Mar 16 at 7:15pm at Violet Crown Cinema 2
Mar 16 at 7:45pm at Violet Crown Cinema 4
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