by Chris Connor
Opening with the lines “I can’t breathe” showcases how timely Shorta, the debut feature from Anders Olholm and Frederik Louis Hviid is premiering months after the death of George Floyd in the US. It is a highly impressive debut full of well handled action sequences with fantastic characterisation of the leads and a real sense of heart, its unpredictable nature is to be applauded as it keeps audiences guessing throughout.
The moody and turbulent atmosphere is one of the highlights of the film, we as the audience are never sure if there is going to be an all-out brawl with the police anticipating a street war from the outset. We follow Jens Hoyer (Simone Sears) and Mike Andersen (Jacob Hauberg Lohmann) as they go out on patrol, the initial sequences between the pair and a group of youths makes for some uncomfortable viewing with a series of racial profiling incidents. The nature in which this is handled showcases that this is still a large issue in police forces across the globe.
The pair of leads are the film’s heart and soul, the contrast in their levels of experience and world views brought to the fore from the offset and this adds a fantastic dynamic to the pairs relationship. Andersen is the embodiment of many toxic traits with sexist and racist comments while Hoyer is far more reserved and collected trying to cool his partner where he can.
Following a series of escalating incidents the pair are forced to escape a series of gangs pursued through a series of council estates, shops and backstreets. The frenetic nature of the chase sequences is fantastic and reminiscent of some of Bourne films. Cinematographer Jacob Moller does a superb job following the action and making sure it is constantly energetic. Some of the more stationary shootouts are top draw especially for a debut film and this boads incredibly well for the future of its pair of directors, a shootout towards the end is reminiscent of Michael Mann’s iconic thriller Heat. The moments of action are short in nature and this makes them hit all the harder when there is a shootout or a bustle.
The film is not without its lighter moments and a conversation between the pair and Amos (Tarek Zayat) about Arsenal and Real Madrid softens the mood and shows a more human side to both sides of the groups the film is reflecting. These brighter moments also allow the audience to take stoke and recover from the moments of pulsating action and show a deftness of touch to the pair of directors.
Shorta is an absolutely terrific debut that has a lot to say on a range of social issues and manages to pack these and a host of terrific action sequences into its 100 minute run time. It is a truly impressive debut with some stellar performances and cinematography. It is both reminiscent of thrillers past but also shows a real aptitude for the genre from its directors that will make them ones to watch with whatever projects they chose to pursue next.
Shorta plays as part of Glasgow Film Festival
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