Review: Los Bando

For such a small film with modest comic goals, the Norwegian road movie Los Bando takes on a lot. Ostensibly, it concerns the ambitions of a group of small-town teenagers who yearn to play rock n roll and intend on competing in a battle of the bands contest in a city on the other side of the country, but it also takes the time to explore each band member’s personal investment in the journey, which isn’t a bad idea except, as mentioned above, it’s supposed to be a comedy and the laughs are often sacrificed to make trite points about what a drag it is growing up.

The environment here has something to do with it. The band’s guitarist, Grim (Tage Johansen Hogness), is a talented instrumentalist but sucks as a singer, except he doesn’t know that and his best friend in the band, drummer Aksel (Jakob Dyrud), is too chicken to tell him. Besides, good singers are almost as scarce in their home town as bass players, which is why they recruit Thilda (Tiril Marie Hoistad Berger), who may be only 9 and plays cello rather than bass, but she’s a badass on that cello. A power trio with a crappy singer and a kid cellist is better than no power trio at all, so they conspire to secretly make it to Tromso for the competition, but how to get there? That’s where Martin (Jonas Hoff Oftebro) comes in. A motor sports aficionado with no drivers license but a secret music jones, he steals his missionary brother’s “Jesus van” to help Los Bando Immortales realize their dream, thus setting in motion not only a road movie of self-discovery, but one that involves three chase elements: Martin’s brother; the police, since Thilda has been reported kidnapped; and various parents and concerned adults. As it happens, each member of the band has an agenda that the competition is meant to assuage, either a girl or a mentor that needs impressing, a parent whose neglect needs to be called out, or simply a means of proving one’s worth to oneself. And while the movie hits all the required beats on its way to satisfying all these needs, including side trips to save a bride in distress and a karaoke contest to earn gas money, it tends to do so without any dramatic strain, making the whole movie somewhat pedestrian in style and tone. Even the music, which you’d expect to be pretty cool since Norway is the birthplace of death metal, is limp. Only Thilda rocks out convincingly. 

In Norwegian. Now playing in Tokyo at Shinjuku Cinema Qualite (03-3352-5645).

Los Bando home page in Japanese

photo Filmbin AS (c) 2018 Alle Rettgheter Forbeholdt

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