For David (portrayed by writer-director Aksel Hennie) nothing seems to be going right…his father is dying of cancer, his mother has to take care of his mentally-ill brother, and his buddies from the local fitness club where he occasionally sees them dealing illegal steroids have just turned against him. On the top of everything else a gang of Pakis is now after him due to a rushed decision to vouch for a "friend" and his drug dealings.
A total teeth-clencher the Norwegian sensation UNO will surely put underground film lovers in North America on high-alert. Here's a film that is so uncompromising, so violent, and above all so fast, that you would hardly have any time to figure out what hit you on the face when the story steps off the break. Directed by first time writer director Aksel Hennie UNO definitely goes a step beyond your typical "real-life" productions which Hollywood wants to convince us are best bred in Southern California. Forget about the bling-bling "let's make a ton of cash" Get Rich or Die Trying laughable joke. This is the real deal, UNO slams you with such a fierce camera work and downright nasty look that if you are not impressed with what you have seen on the screen by the time the end credits roll I suggest you reevaluate your standards about quality filmmaking.
Not since Mathieu Kassovitz's La Haine have I witnessed such an angry filmmaker with so much to tell to his audiences. From the beginning to the end UNO is one roller-coaster of a ride where nothing, absolutely nothing can compare with the scene which you have just witnessed-this is raw and powerful storytelling at its best. The desperation on David's face, the seemingly fatal outcome of a "true" friendship, even the intimidating look of the brother which David has to once again embrace make UNO a must-see for anyone, and I mean anyone interested in original filmmaking.
UNO is definitely a film of extreme contrasts-from its violent visuals to the soothing soundtrack which creates an unusual feeling of serenity everything in this smartly put together production clicks down to the smallest detail. The relationships we witness on the screen demand a second guessing, the story never seizes to surprise, even the climax of UNO is unpredictable. Nothing absolutely nothing in this film suggests a first-time director; on the contrary I am impressed by just about any aspect of UNO worthy of discussion.
I don't know how accurate it is to speak about Scandinavian film renaissance but the countries from the Nordic region are certainly under a magic spell which I hope will not end any time soon. Denmark's NORDKRAFT, Finland's Paha Maa, and now Norway's UNO (also see Hawaii, Oslo) obviously show that something special is now growing roots in Scandinavia.
As to UNO all that is left to say is...see this film as soon as possible. Its gritty look and above all beautiful camera work will leave you breathless. There is certainly something poetic in the violent and cold streets of Oslo which Aksel Hennie has captured just perfectly. Hopefully no US remake will destroy what appears to be one of the most exotic and powerful films to ever come out of the frozen lands of Fridtjof Nansen.
How Does the DVD Look?
Despite the fact that UNO appears to have been mastered from a PAL source (once again why…what would it take to finally get TLA to properly flag their releases) the print is in very good condition. Tone colors are especially well handled, contrast in good condition, and edge enhancement not a factor. Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and enhanced widescreen TV's this could have been a perfect disc if it was not a PAL to NTSC port.
How Does the DVD Sound?
While the beautiful DTS track from the Norwegian release is not offered here UNO still sounds very good. The 5.1 Norwegian track is mastered rather well and there isn't anything worthy of negative comments. With optional English subtitles.
On set footage-
The Last Day Blooper Reel-
Behind the Scenes Featurette-
See this film!!! Great story, powerful acting, and a mesmerizing soundtrack easily place UNO between one of the most original and daring new films to come out of Northern Europe (as strange as it seems it was not long ago that we talked about the Danish sensation NORDKRAFT…). HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.