There is no easy way to tackle the subject of assisted suicide and Danish director, Jonas Alexander Arnby, boldly deals with this head-on in his latest film, Suicide Tourist.
From the get-go you get an overwhelming feeling of melancholy mixed with hopelessness in this mystery drama.
We meet Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, a life insurance salesman “Max”, who is told his brain tumour cannot be treated and faces the harsh reality of his impending fate. It is a stripped back nuanced performance from the Danish actor.
And in stark contrast to his role as Jamie Lannister in Game of Thrones.
It deals with the uneasy decision of Max wishing to un-burden his wife, Lærke (uva Novotny), of caring for him when his health inevitably declines after learning of suicide hotel, “The Aurora”, in one of his investigations.
You get a firm sense of where the film is headed but to its credit it keeps things interesting. Arnby does strike a real note of intrigue in Suicide Tourist, as he dabbles in several genres with a pivot at one point that is sci-fi-esq when Max begins to question his decision as he explores the layers of this facility.
There are moments of levity that let you take a breather from the doom and gloom of death. But these moments are a rarity.
It is reminiscent in a way of Total Recall (1990) where “The Aurora” tailor-make your death from the option of donating your body to feed a plant to the option of a stand-in to play the part of a loved one where valued memories can be re-created.
But it does become a slog to get to this point where its pace is off. It feels it loses its direction between the genres it tries to tap into instead making a firm commitment. Is any of this real? Are we simply in Max’s mind witnessing him deteriorate?
What is perhaps the films biggest miscalculation is Nikolaj Coster-Waldau doesn’t really get a chance to do much with the character. We do feel empathy and sympathy for Max and invest in the deep love he has for wife but there is no real development.
This makes it difficult to really care about this fate as events unfold.
Suicide Tourist is interesting in parts but a missed opportunity for Arnby and Birch. It takes too long to get going and by the time it does you can be forgiven for not really caring.