Review: Suicide Tourist is beautiful and dark.. so dark

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in a scene from Suicide Tourist, showing at the Sydney Film Festival.

The Fantastic Film Festival Australia kicks off next Saturday and there are preview screenings taking place around the city, with a number of quality international offerings to tease audiences.

One of them, presented in association with the Sydney Film Festival, is Danish director Jonas Alexander Arnby’s Scandi thriller Suicide Tourist, a dark exploration that will challenge your ideas about your own existence.

The director of When Animals Dream is back and this time he tells the story of Max, an insurance agent questioning his own mortality. While trying to locate a missing man, he discovers the exclusive Hotel Aurora. The resort has been set up for those wishing to die by suicide.

Be prepared to not like this movie and then to change your mind halfway through. Be prepared to finish watching it and not be able to decide how you felt after all but know that it has affected you.

The film is dark from start to end from its content to its colour grade and Mikkel Hess’s melancholic score adds to the weight of the content. The story is confronting and essentially addresses life, what it means to be alive and the wake-up calls that arrive to remind us.

There is more to consider beneath the morbid however. The Swiss backdrop is breathtaking for one, and beautifully shot, with vast mountains and clean white snow for days and the entire film looks as though IKEA has styled the entire immaculate affair.

The chemistry between lead actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (better known as Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones) and his on screen wife Tuva Novotny, is tangible and is a heart wrenching interpretation of love and putting your partner first before everything, even if it is torturous to yourself. It explores the lengths that we as humans go to in order to protect the ones we love at all costs.

Coster-Waldau does a wonderful job at portraying the emotionally torn Max and co-star Robert Aramayo plays the role of Ari with ease, delicately balancing between vunerability, bravery and pain.

Arnby’s film is psychologically harrowing but despite feeling like you have to stop watching before you check into Hotel Aurora with the actors, you can’t tear yourself away.

It’s a gripping piece of work despite a slow start and leaves you feeling as though you have been personally affected by the character’s ordeals and may even see you running to embrace your loved ones with a deeper appreciation for life.

The Fantastic Film Festival Australia runs from Feb 20 to March 4.

The Sydney Film Festival runs from June 3-14.