🇳🇴 🇩🇰 BLODSBÅND 🇩🇰 🇳🇴
Blodsbånd aka Mirush (2007) is a Norwegian-Danish co-production available on Netflix U.K. 1 hour 40 minutes in length. In Norwegian, Albanian and English with subtitles. Rated 15 U.K.
“15-year-old Mirush. He travels to Norway to find his father, as he left the family when Mirush was small. Now his dad is running a restaurant in Oslo’s backyards and struggling with debt burdens to the Albanian mafia in the capital city. His father has started a new life with a Norwegian girlfriend, and his Albanian family is just a vague memory–until Mirush shows up. He starts working for his father but doesn’t say much. Slowly but surely they get to know each other but Mirush isn’t fully prepared for what he finds out, and he’s forced to make choices that will have major consequences for both of them.” IMDb
Enrico Lo Verso as Bekim
Nazif Muarremi as Mirush
Glenn Andre Kaada as Frode
Ramadan Huseini as Ismet
Anna Bache-Wiig as Hannah
Bajrush Mjaku as Vulkan
Mirjana Karanovic as Hava
Michalis Koutsogiannakis as The Cook
Fisnik Zekiri as Armend
Writers: Lars Gudmestad, Bjørn Olaf Johannessen, Harald Rosenløw-Eeg
Director: Marius Holst
Composer: Franco Piersanti
Cinematographer: John Andreas Andersen
Editor: Guido Notari
Sound: Christian Schaanning
Skopje, North Macedonia
⚠️ This review contains spoilers ⚠️
Mirush leaves Kosovo hoping to find his father in Norway, who abandoned the family when Mirush was very young. Although he has always continued to think about his father it is the death of his brother that leads him to take an irregular journey all the way northwards. One of the themes of this film is abandonment, its reasons (and excuses) and deep-rooted fears and resentments of it happening again.
When Mirush arrives in Norway he faces a very different culture and country from the one he has left. Not only is there a language barrier (he knew about this before leaving and tried to learn some Norwegian) but the climate and just “the way things are”. His father, Bekim, now runs a restaurant in Oslo, but he is also in deep debt to the Albanian Mafia. Initially, Mirush starts to work in his father’s restaurant without letting him know that he is his son.
A lovely section of Blodsbånd has Mirush and his father build a great relationship, albeit not an honest one. His father does not know who this boy really is and Mirush does not yet understand that his father has simply wiped his mind of the family he left behind. There is a scene at the beach which encapsulates the anger that Mirush has inside.
Dishonesty and betrayal are other major themes of this story and it features in different ways right from the start. Mirush is a talented basketball player but he and his brother use this to con others out of money. Later, in Norway, he forms a close friendship with a co-worker in the restaurant and uses the same trick with him in what was his brother’s role. And it is this trick and the stealing of a watch (later used in the bet) from the violent Albanian son of the mafia leader that leads to a horrendous downward spiral of events. There are betrayals and sacrifices of the most terrible kind.
Of course, his father eventually finds out that Mirush is the son he abandoned all those years before. At first, we think he has no paternal feelings but, ultimately, we see he is prepared to risk a lot for his son to try and protect him. Unfortunately, Mirush sees his father’s desire to send him back home as abandonment and betrayal (again) and this is the crux of the matter. This element of betrayal comes strongly back into play towards the end of the film.
Finally, though, Mirush is back where he started, in Kosovo, alive, mature, and very much the wiser but with a dark secret to bear.
Blodsbånd runs a little too long and would have been better edited further down. There are also some issues with pacing in places however, there is much to like about this tragic story which ends on a possibly more positive note than how it started (we can make up our own minds on that).
I thought the acting in this was really good throughout and the characters seemed very realistic. I liked the cinematography which has a raw, immediate quality. Using real locations without frills also adds to the realism. The way that tension was built up towards the denouement that we know will inevitably happen was well done and made it a tough watch. You know that things are not going to play out well but it’s like watching a car rolling out of control that’s inevitably going to crash and end in disaster.
Overall, Blodsbånd is not a bundle of laughs and if you’re looking for a feel-good film this isn’t it, but it is definitely worth the watch.
Awards: 5 Wins 4 Nominations
Trailer (no English subtitles):
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Thank you Davina as ever for the extremely useful reviews you write.
Thank you for the kind words, they are very much appreciated.