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Cool and Crazy Review

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Documentary which follows an elderly male voice choir from the impoverished town of Berlevåg in the cold North of Norway.

★★★★

This documentary proved remarkably popular in its home country. Times are hard in the village of Berlevåg, where the fishing industry is in decline, but singing in the male voice choir gives some sort of meaning to the lives of 30 or so local men. Honest interviews mix with shots of the choir singing in the snow, giving a warmth to this documentary that's at odds with the chilly landscapes.The portraits of the characters in the choir – including a wheelchair-bound leader, a hardline Communist, two nonagenarian brothers, a reformed drug addict and an agnostic organist – are touching and funny.

The music is a little difficult to warm to, but the way the choir is filmed singing is astonishing: at one point they're framed by a postcard-perfect sunset; at another, pitting their voices and bodies against the elements as they sing through snowstorms with icicles on their noses. A stirring context for this odd but dignified bunch.

While its premise suggests a limited appeal, director Knut Erik Jensen manages to strike plenty of universal chords.