🇩🇰 PUSHER 🇩🇰
PUSHER (1996) is a Danish crime-thriller free on Amazon Prime U.K., rent/buy Prime US, rent/buy Flix Fling Canada, Kanopy Aus. 18 Cert U.K.
Kim Bodnia as Frank
Zlatko Burić as Milo
Laura Draebæk as Vic
Slavko Labovic as Radovan
Mads Mikkelsen as Tonny
Peter Andersen as Hasse
Vasilije Bojicic as Branko
Lisbeth Rasmussen as Rita
Levino Jensen as Mike
Thomas Bo Larsen as Junkie
Nicolas Winding Refn as Brian
Jesper Lohmann as Mikkel
Gordon Kennedy as Anders
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Cinematographer: Morton Søborg
Writers: Jens Dahl & Nicolas Winding Refn
Editor: Anne Østerund
Music: Povl Kristian & Peter Peter
Costume: Loa Miller
“A drug pusher grows increasingly desperate after a botched deal leaves him with a large debt to a ruthless drug lord.” J. Johnson IMDb
- This was Nicolas Winding Refn’s first feature film
- Mads Mikkelsen’s film debut
- Peter Peter also composed the music for Pusher ll and Pusher lll
Pusher is over 20 years old now so here we see a youthful Kim Bodnia, Mads Mikkelsen and Thomas Bo Larsen. I was aware that both Nicolas Winding Refn and this film are influential in Danish cinema.
Straight from the off Pusher pulls no punches (both literally and metaphorically) with drug-taking, violence, eye-watering swearing, sexually explicit dialogue (with accompanying terminology and gestures), very offensive racial slurs and a frequently appalling view of women.
Frank (Kim Bodnia) and his best friend Tonny (Mads Mikkelsen) are first shown enjoying what could be best described as a scummy hedonistic lifestyle. They are aimless and spend a lot of time indulging in drugs, alcohol, mindless chat and forcing people to pay up for the drugs that Frank pushes with Tonny as his “enforcer”. You see how Frank finds his mate unacceptable at times, yes, even Frank has standards and he is not racially prejudiced. It’s also interesting in that Frank does not view himself as a “junkie” even though he indulges in hard drugs himself. Both performances are excellent.
The ensemble cast is solid throughout and I especially enjoyed the performances of Laura Draebæk (Vic) Frank’s on-off maybe girlfriend, Slavko Labovic (Radovan) an enforcer who would rather be cooking in his own kebab restaurant than torturing or killing people and Zlatko Burić (Milo) dessert chef and drug overlord.
Essentially this is a survival movie which revolves around the terrible downward spiral that Frank finds himself in. Every time we (and he) thinks he can sort everything it goes all goes wrong again. He’s a bit of a cheeky chancer who will try anything to save himself.
One of the main themes is betrayal which is explored at various points in the story. It is clear that betrayal in Frank’s world means violent revenge. Another theme is ambition (or lack thereof) and how circumstances can aid or cripple what we want in life. Frank himself gives and expects loyalty but rarely, if ever, gets it in return.
The sheer grimness, gritty realism and violence are offset by some hilarious moments. Make no mistake there is some blistering violence in this film, brutal, realistic and often sudden. Frank ending up in a lake desperately dumping a carrier bag of “brown” with the pursuing police officers having to wade in to apprehend him is just one hilarious moment.
I loved the costuming and make-up in this film: everything from the tacky tracksuits and the shirts, to the tattoos on heads, hands, arms, bodies and the jewellery.
What can I say about the cinematography? The handheld camerawork creates the gritty, fly on the wall realism but is not so overused as to make you queasy. The tracking shots are fantastic and draw you along with the characters. Along with this is the design which uses natural light for the most part but with some effective scenes in nightclubs and bars which light the faces very effectively.
I enjoyed this film immensely. The tension is racked up considerably towards the end. There are shocking, tragic scenes and ultimately we are rooting for poor Frank in his desperate attempt to not end up… dead.
Not for the faint of heart or those who are offended by very strong language etc. What a brilliant debut feature film!
Gritty realism not without a sense of humour.
Bodil Awards (1997) Zlatko Buric ~ Best Supporting Actor
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