Gnarr | On Demand review
An Icelandic prank doc keeps too cool.
Icelandic comedian Jón Gnarr has only one wish: “to make people happy.” As the core value of a public official, that’s a pretty good one, so Gnarr decides to run for mayor of his struggling hometown, Reykjavík. His campaign starts off as a mad performance-art piece about Iceland’s broken political system, but his outrageous proposals (like his refusal to work with anyone who doesn’t like the HBO series The Wire) and quick-witted candor quickly transform him from joke candidate to serious contender.
It’s easy to see what endeared Gnarr to Reykjavík voters, but it’s tougher to find things to endear Gnarr, the documentary about his campaign, to American audiences. Director Gaukur Úlfarsson makes no attempt to capture the full breadth of the mayoral race or to talk to any of his subject’s opponents. He barely gets Gnarr’s genuine opinion about anything (other than The Wire, obviously). His camera exists solely to record the comedian’s material, most of which is so Iceland-specific it will go completely over the heads of viewers here. (If you know what the Hljómskálagarourinn is—and think there should be free access to it—this is your movie.) Does the documentary exist to support Gnarr’s run for mayor, or does the run for mayor exist to support the documentary? Right up until the surprising finale, it’s tough to say; like any good politician, Gnarr stays on message and never lets his guard down. (Now available on VOD.)