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#Film Review: Netflix’s 22 July (2018)

Director: Paul Greengrass

Rating: 1/5

This film is based on a true event, when Anders Behring Breivik committed a terrorist attack in Norway (22 July 2011). The attack was committed to murder the leaders of tomorrow, or Norwegian youth that attended the camp promoting multiculturalism. As the film correctly emphasizes, many prominent Norwegian politicians attended that camp in the past and it was not unreasonable to expect that the future PM of Norway was in the camp at the time of the attack.

This terrorist attack was a plight to stop Muslim immigration to Europe, by arguing that European countries are not democratic for taking European culture away from people, without their consent. Breivik also saluted with Nazi salute in the courtroom, which the film correctly portrayed. The film is however, mostly concentrated on the survival of victims, and in particular of Viljar Hanssen and his family. Viljar was on the island with his younger brother Torje and he is portrayed as a potential leader of tomorrow. He still lives with a tiny part of the bullet lodged next to his brain stem, which could move and kill him at any time. And he is indeed a leader, because he is currently running in local elections for a councillor in Tromso.

The film is an important reminder of Far Right fascism and how dangerous Far Right can be. The film also focuses on victims, which would be good if this was done well. Sadly, it wasn’t. The actors are Norwegians who are speaking in English, and this causes a weird feeling. They speak in English with a Norwegian accent and thus the film pretends to be English, but we know this is happening in Norway and that the names used in the film are real. Nevertheless, actors naturally pronounce Norwegian names and places in an appropriate Norwegian pronunciation, and this again feels weird.

The acting is also not very good. While Jonas Strand Gravli portrays Viljar’s anger and despair really well, the other actors are not convincing, which undermines the effectiveness of the focus on victims. In addition, the film is very slow and the story unfolds very slowly without sufficient details of the attacker. This makes the film difficult to watch.

I am not opposed to the victim’s focus, but then it should have been more victims and not just one, to make the story flow better. In this situation, with one family being the focus, we needed more details on the attacker. I read before that Breivik was recognized as psychotic even in his childhood and I think this should have been explored. Instead, the film portrays his version of the story almost as a legitimate one and the characters in the film only respond with anger and shock, but that is not enough to promote anti-fascist views. A clear link between his psychotic behaviour in childhood should have been explored to show that he was unstable even as a child. In this film, Breivik actually got a chance to spread and promote his ideology without that ideology being questioned, and nevertheless this happened at the time when Far Right is gaining power and support unseen since the WWII!

Thank you for reading.

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