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Black Crab Movie Review: Intensely brilliant Noomi Rapace in a predictable film- Cinema express

Black Crab Movie Review: Intensely brilliant Noomi Rapace in a predictable film

Black Crab impresses with its characters and cinematography, while its predictable storyline leaves room for improvement

Published: 19th March 2022
Noomi Rapace in Netflix's Black Crab

Despite falling prey to genre cliches every now and then, the screen adaptation of Jerker Virdborg’s novel ends up being an engaging one, for the most part. The post-apocalyptic wartime story it presents does get a tad predictable from time to time (some revelations being anything but revelatory, in the end), but under the circumstances, the acting remains a standout. Noomi Rapace gives us her dark, brooding and intense best as lead character Caroline Edh. Flashes of her backstory are shown only in parts, with events between the beginning of the civil war and present-day not addressed at all. While this may leave the viewer with unanswered questions, there’s no denying it adds to Black Crab’s intriguing aura. The dark and desolate landscape of wintery Scandinavia is reinforced by the film’s exceptional cinematography. The sheer scale of the skating expedition to deliver a top-secret package (that will purportedly end the war) makes you question, along with the characters, the worth of any of it? Impossibly treacherous climatic conditions, a faceless enemy that looms large, diminishing physical and mental reserves, and enough suspicion from within the squad, are only a few reasons for them to not go ahead with the plan, but these are times of war. There is no choice! And for some people like Caroline, this mission—which she rightfully calls suicidal—is perhaps her only vestige of hope. When survival isn’t a given, hope can prove to be both a comfort and a curse.

Director – Adam Berg

Cast – Noomi Rapace, Dar Salim, Jakob Oftebro, Ardalan Esmaili, Martin Hendrikse, Aliette Opheim

Streaming On – Netflix

An unnamed catastrophe has led to the breakout of widespread civil war. Caroline and her daughter are at home when the first signs of strife emerge. They gradually move out for the purposes of safety. While attempting to take refuge in a car, the mother and daughter are forcibly separated. Cut to an undisclosed future, and Caroline has picked up arms, fighting for one of the warring factions. She is asked to disembark from a train and report to a superior. After some initially tense moments, she reaches the base. The Colonel informs her (and a group of combatants who have been summoned from different military units/divisions) that she was chosen for her superior geographical knowledge of the region and its terrain. The mission is to skate across a frozen archipelago behind enemy lines under the cover of darkness, to transport a secret load. This load has the power to supposedly end the war. They can only go on foot as the ice is too thin. When given permission to speak, Caroline calls it suicidal. Her opinion doesn’t matter, though, as this is a direct order. To keep her levels of motivation high, she is dangled the carrot of hope. But too much hope can be a dangerous thing.

Black Crab becomes a decent watch owing to how its characters are sketched. The group comprises those who used to live regular lives before the war began. They are prisoners of circumstance who picked up arms to merely get by. Malik (Dar Salim) comes off as the friendliest of the lot. When they are taking refuge at a couple’s home, he speaks passionately about all the artefacts he has collected so far, and that his dream is to run an antique store someday, once the fighting ceases. The members might be at odds, highly suspicious of the other’s intentions, but they are on the same page when it comes to the utter needlessness of the conflict. They’ve all lost too much to bear, and it shows. The aforementioned scene, though brief, sheds a light on the human side of the larger narrative. Noomi Rapace’s portrayal is understandably the highpoint of the film. A lot is left unsaid and a lot can be predicted quite easily, but one thing that does not change is the powerful intensity of Noomi’s performance. She refrains from saying more than what is strictly necessary (even when questioned midway about her need to complete the mission at all costs), and yet, the sorrow of the years and the magnetic pull of the destination are writ large on her face. The principal points of conflict in the narrative aren’t difficult to figure out, unfortunately. An overdose of predictability undermines a strong acting display all around. Adam Berg’s directorial debut borrows from the post-apocalyptic fare of the past, and if it weren’t for Noomi Rapace and her co-stars, this could well have been a mediocre film. Character is what tips the scales in its favour. One message Black Crab does succeed in delivering (without being too overt about it) is the one that opposes war across the board. The sheer futility of the characters’ pursuit is captured poignantly. Not bad for a debut!

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