Since we were touring Europe for these last few weeks, it’s unavoidable to mention this cult trilogy coming to us from Denmark. Pusher is more than just a movie, it’s a personal experience about drugs and drug dealing. It actually deters you from those imaginative scenarios that you keep coming up after a mainstream drug-related movie. It’s an extremely accurate representation of the drug underworld and its participants, willing and unwilling… The hard choices, hard people, and lives at stake almost all the time are the norm. There are no magic shortcuts, deals, and good people, only humans, and their flaws and “virtues”. Although the crew denied rumors that they were using actual drugs during filming, any experienced pothead can recognize that stare…
Pusher also features two now well-established names making one hell of a debut. Nicolas Winding Refn went on to have an amazing career, focusing on surreal imagery driven by neon-lit and noir-soaked environments. He stuck with the criminal theme but the visual style changed drastically. Also, I think I don’t need to tell you anything about Mads Mikkelsen, probably the most famous Danish actor today. You can see that even in his first role he showed incredible talent and charisma. And finally you have Kim Bodnia as Frank in the lead role with another great performance. Raw, visceral, and uncompromising, this is one of those movies you’ll remember. And when you finish watching it, there are two more sequels waiting for you.
Meet Frank, a low-level drug dealer looking for that big score. The one that’s going to promote him to a mid-level dealer in Copenhagen. He and his buddy Tonny are living life to the maximum with all the obligatory sins. As Frank decides to move up the ranks, he sets in motion a couple of deals that all need to go well for this thing to work. One of them is a big deal between him and a local drug lord called Milo. He’s a funny man, a Serb, and certainly a man not to be fucked with. Especially when you take a look at his ruthless crew. And then things started getting bad…
Pusher is a very personal and intense experience. The immersion factor is simply off the charts as we get to be a real pusher in Copenhagen for a few days. It reminded me of Strange Days where you take this drug and relive events from another person’s life. Here, you don’t need to do any drugs to achieve that effect. The compressed time frame in which the story is unfolding only adds to a sense of impending doom.
The atmosphere is suspenseful and gritty, just like real life. It seems that the nineties provided us with a lot of phenomenal movies about drugs. And while Trainspotting features that British blend of stylish comedy mixed with harsh reality, Pusher uses that harsh reality to generate comedy. Plus, the focus is on the dealers not the users. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention phenomenal French thriller La Haine.
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writers: Jens Dahl, Nicolas Winding Refn
Cast: Kim Bodnia, Zlatko Buric, Mads Mikkelsen, Slavko Labovic, Laura Drasbæk, Peter Andersson
Fun Facts: The film was at first going to be a 10-minute short. Director Nicolas Winding Refn was supposed to be in the lead role.