Nuuk Highlights The Filipino Take on a Nordic Noir Film
by Anne Marielle Eugenio, October 08, 2019 5:25pm
Art by Dani Elevazo
“I was afraid not because of the many unknowns faced filming in a sub-zero environment but because we were attempting to make an intelligent film.” -Veronica Velasco on making Nuuk.
What makes an intelligent film? Anything that veers away from the narratives we’ve grown accustomed to. Probably anything that doesn’t fit into the rich vs poor, legal wife vs. mistress narrative, nor slapstick comedy counts as something outstanding in the Philippine film scene. The bar may be set low when it comes to classifying “intelligent” in the roster of local movies, but Nuuk, has exceeded expectations. And may as well have set the standard for the "intelligent" filipino films to come.
Nuuk, a film by Veronica Velasco, centers on Filipina widower residing in Nuuk, Greenland, Elaisa Svendsen (Alice Dixson). The film takes place in the time when Elaisa’s son, Karl (Ujarneq Fleischer) abandoned her. To cope with loss, she has become dependent on alcohol and drugs. Elaisa is hopeless and depressed, ‘til she met fellow Filipino Mark Alvarez (Aga Mulach) on a trip to the pharmacy. She found comfort in him and everything in her life falls into place.
From this plot, Nuuk sounds like a story about love, family, and the struggles of an overseas Filipino—all of the heartwarming themes we are used to. But the viewers’ perspective will change as the story progresses. When all seems well and good between Elaisa and Mark, Mark disappears without a trace.
Nuuk is the first Filipino film that was shot in Greenland. It is also a film of Nordic noir genre, a genre of crime fiction set in Scandinavia or Northern Europe.
It Goes Darker as You Go Deeper
Underneath all the “sub-zero love affair” of Mark and Elaisa, there’s a dark story waiting to be uncovered. When you thought you had all the story figured out, it will lead you to another plot twist and an unexpected ending.
With this film, Velasco had the opportunity to touch on mental health, alcoholism, and unhealthy obsessions. She delves into the darker corners of the human mind—a rare theme of Filipino movies we have today. All of the actors’ portrayals are convincing it is almost scary. The script will keep you holding on ‘til the end with scenes that will make you hold your breath and pop your eyes out.
As Velasco said, making Nuuk was a scary experience—not because of the sub-zero environment but because she and the crew were attempting to make an intelligent film. But that fear can be deemed worth it. Nuuk is undoubtedly intelligent, brilliant, and well-made. It breaks the boundaries of our usual storylines. One that’s meant to be seen in order to be understood, appreciated, and more importantly to see growth in the scope of Filipino films.
Truly, it brings in a new cinematic experience to the Filipino audience and a great contribution to the Filipino film industry.