The Wave (Bølgen) takes the tropes of American disaster movies and gives them a Nordic twist. In Norway you have lovely small towns dotted along the valleys of fjords. You might find something similar in Washington or Alaska. But the concept of a tsunami wrecking havoc in America is visualized as a huge wave taking out a major city on a coastline like in Deep Impact.
Director Roar Uthaug places the audience in the idyllic village of Geiranger. One couple sums up the economic reality of the resort town: the husband does geological research that involves monitoring the shifting of the surrounding mountains while the wife manages a hotel.
Natch, an unexpected earthquake causes massive amounts of rock to fall avalanche style into the waters of the fjord causing a wave hundreds of feet tall. The villagers have approximately ten minutes to get the hell out of Dodge.
The Wave wastes no time in depicting the deluge of water into the town – that occurs at the mid-point. The remainder of the film concentrates on the various survivors, in particular a small group who managed to lock themselves in a vault in the hotel basement. But water is slowly leaking in and the seconds are ticking.
The Wave has as much guts as a film like last year’s San Andreas yet it also has a brain and a pulse that gives the whole affair the aura of a thinking person’s disaster film. The Wave opens this weekend the downtown Sundance Cinema.
— Michael Bergeron