90 Minutes is a Norwegian dramatic thriller  by writer-director Eva Sørhaug. It strings together three stories which all share one thing: In an hour and a half, a murder will be committed.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vpmrCH9heo]

The film is structured in such a way that each of the three stories is split into three parts, with the first act consisting of each story’s first act and so on. This turns out to be hugely effective as it gives you a bunch of mini-cliffhangers and leaves you clamoring for more information. Things are also kept fresh because the three murders are committed for different reasons and under different circumstances. It’s also not immediately clear who’ll turn out to be the killer, keeping the viewer on his toes.

The focus isn’t on character building in the vignettes but rather seeing the lead up to the committal of one of the darkest acts a person can do onto another person. There’s a clear through line to the film, the fact that people aren’t always what they seem. Parts of the cinematography drive this home, framed shots through doors where we can’t clearly see what people are doing as well as the act book-ending shots of faceless, black and white crowds convey the film’s message that we just don’t know people and the ones committing the crimes could be anyone. Sacrificing the micro for the macro works very well within the context of the film.

Aksel Hennie as a straight up asshole in 90 Minutes

The first story is its weakest as we’re given very little to latch onto it, although that senselessness does fit with the film’s overall message. It appears that the filmmakers are most interested in the third story as is gets the most screen time. Nonetheless all of them are great, with great flow and a shocking feeling of escalation. Especially in the latter two, which swell to a fever pitch before bursting with horrifying acts of violence.

Aksel Hennie, in the third story, puts in a completely riveting performance. He shows tremendous range as the role is completely different from his great turn in last year’s Headhunters. Here he’s constantly on edge and a complete violent scumbag, the film’s standout performance. The cast cooperates well with the interesting structure to keep your attention at all times. It’s all accompanied by a chilling score by Henrik Skam that digs itself under your skin and tethers you to the narrative.

Final Verdict: 90 Minutes plunders the depths of the human psyche and provides a deeply cynical look at just how horrible people can be to each other for sometimes no seemingly logical reason. Fantastically well made and often captivating. It’ll get you to ponder the darkest reaches of humanity and the possibility that the darkness can exist within anyone of us.

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