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101 Reykjavík

2000 Icelandic film directed by Baltasar Korm\u00e1kur

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101 Reykjavík
DVD cover
Directed byBaltasar Kormákur
Produced byIngvar Þórðarson
Baltasar Kormákur
Written byHallgrímur Helgason (novel)
Baltasar Kormákur
StarringVictoria Abril
Hilmir Snær Guðnason
Hanna María Karlsdóttir
Music byDamon Albarn
Einar Örn Benediktsson
CinematographyPeter Steuger
Edited bySkule Eriksen
Sigvaldi J. Kárason
Distributed by101 Limited
Release date
June 1, 2000 (2000-06-01)
Running time
88 minutes
Box office$126,404

101 Reykjavík ( pronunciation ) is a 2000 Icelandic comedy film directed by Baltasar Kormákur and starring Victoria Abril and Hilmir Snær Guðnason. It is based on an eponymous 1996 novel by Hallgrímur Helgason,[1] and both are set in Reykjavík, Iceland. The title is taken from the Íslandspóstur postal code for the Miðborg district of central Reykjavík. The film won nine B-class film awards and received ten nominations most notably winning the Discovery Film Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.


Geek Hlynur is approaching 30 years old, still lives with his mother who is divorced from his alcoholic father, downloads porn, and wanders around Reykjavík half-heartedly searching for a job while spending much time in Kaffibarinn, the central Reykjavík bar (the bar is owned in real life by writer/director Baltasar Kormákur and his soundtrack composer Damon Albarn, a long-standing Icelandophile). The cramped, dark and oddly furnished house in which Hlynur and his mother live features a bath which transfigures into a sofa as Hlynur steps naked out of it, in the middle of the lounge with his mother watching.

Hlynur's isolated world – no small metaphor for his home country – is going along rather blissfully ignorant of the greater joys involved with engaging in life until his mother's friend Lola Milagros arrives to stay at the house for a while. Lola is a Spanish flamenco instructor with a seductive smile, a sultry voice and a carpe-diem attitude. Unknown to Hlynur, she is also bisexual and in a physical relationship with his mother, Berglind. An enigmatic character, Lola quickly becomes the center of the household dynamic when, after a night of heavy drinking while Berglind is away, she and Hlynur sleep together. The fling remains a secret between Hlynur and Lola. (Throughout the film, the song Lola often plays as background music.) As Hlynur gradually learns of their lesbian relationship, he becomes jealous of it, realizing that he was simply a momentary fling for Lola, but he is also the dutiful son who wants to accept his mother's newfound lesbianism and be happy for her. He also has occasional seeming oedipal / incestuous dreams about his mother.

Lola wants Hlynur to get out of the house and find himself something to do because she recognizes from the start that that's what he needs most, but Hlynur prefers to pass the time in a true slacker fashion with plenty of excess and not an iota of effort. He sees no real future for himself, rather an entire life supported by the Icelandic welfare state. "It's a great system." he says. When asked what he does, Hlynur responds with, "Nothing." Pushed further with, "What kind of nothing?" he replies the only way he can: "A nothing kind of nothing." Not even death is a serious topic for Hlynur – intoxicating, out-all-night weekends inspire, "Each weekend I drop dead." He says this while lighting up a Lucky atop a snow-capped mountain, where he lies down as the snow gradually covers him up, but his plans are scuppered by rainfall melting his would-be tomb. His mixed up thoughts include musings about suicide: "The worst thing about AIDS as a method of suicide is that it takes so long to die from it."

On the other hand, Hlynur's fantasy life is alive with passion and glimpses of his subconscious show us a deeply conflicted sense of self. Flashbacks of an alcoholic father mix with sexual fantasies of the lovely Lola but quickly reveal that mom's in bed, too. During a quick trip to the suburbs for a dinner with extended family, Hlynur, so comically disturbed by the mundane family ritual (they actually gather to watch a video of last year's family dinner), imagines a bloodbath scene killing everyone at close range with a shotgun. When brought back to reality, Hlynur's blank slate and effortless personality come back into the fore: "I was thinking what a nice couch you have", he explains to the previously slaughtered family.

Hlynur's confusion over the whole situation is expressed in his rather profound and imaginative musings:

There they are...my mother the lesbian, and my father the boozer. What am I then? The offspring of a lesbian and a boozer? It's like two birds of different species. The lesbian bird and the boozer bird. The boozer is a wetland bird. He's rather heavy...and needs a good run-up to get off the ground. He can fly for a long time and has good stamina. Several weeks may pass by before he gets back on the ground. In between he lies low and goes on the defensive. Especially for the first days after landing. The lesbian. Unlike the boozer...the lesbian is a relative newcomer to Icelandic nature. She is thought to have migrated from Denmark and Britain. Her only contact with the male bird is during conception. In recent years we have witnessed cases of male birds...who are unable to fly at all. The offspring of a boozer and a lesbian is the Hlynur...an unusually slow developer that can't fly... and remains with his mother for the first 30 years. The Hlynur is defensive by nature, but harmless.

The film progresses as Hlynur comes to terms with his mother's love for Lola and his own feelings of inadequacy with her. The announcement that Lola is pregnant pushes him to the brink, making living under the same roof next to impossible for all three; but after a lot of acting out and flippant commentary, Hlynur begins to see life little differently. Hlynur also begins engaging in more activities outside his home and eventually finds himself a fitting job as well as the affections of a woman his age who has broken up with her unfaithful boyfriend. The infant's arrival also symbolically coincides neatly with Hlynur's homecoming to the world outside his bedroom and a newfound contentedness. The strong possibility that he is the father of Lola's child has been a secret between Lola and Hlynur, and this is more than hinted at in the closing scenes of the happy household composed of mother, son, Lola, and Lola's baby who calls him Papa.

101 Reykjavík Plot articles: 10


  • Victoria Abril as Lola
  • Hilmir Snær Guðnason as Hlynur
  • Hanna María Karlsdóttir as Berglind
  • Þrúður Vilhjálmsdóttir as Hófí
  • Baltasar Kormákur as Þröstur
  • Ólafur Darri Ólafsson as Marri
  • Þröstur Leó Gunnarsson as Brúsi
  • Eyvindur Erlendsson as Hafsteinn
  • Halldóra Björnsdóttir as Elsa
  • Hilmar Jonsson as Magnús
  • Jóhann Sigurðarson as Páll
  • Edda Heidrún Backman as Páll's wife
  • Guðmundur Ingi Þorvaldsson as Ellert
  • Gunnar Eyjólfsson as the neighbor
  • Jónína Ólafsdóttir as woman at the employment office
  • Sigríður Helgadóttir as Amma
  • Inga Maria Valdimarsdóttir as Vinkona Hófíar
  • Agnar Jón Egilsson as Rósi
  • Rósi Hattari as Barfluga
  • Atli Rafn Sigurðsson as Gulli
  • Guðrún María Bjarnadóttir as Ingey
  • Lilja Nótt Þórarinsdóttir as Gunna
  • Benedikt Ingi Armannsson as Óli

Awards and nominations




  1. ^ Hallgrímur Helgason, 101 Reykjavík (Reykjavík: Mál og menning, 1996). ISBN 9979314761; 9979315768; 9789979314769

External links