- Directed by Jesper Isaksen -
“No Exit” is a short action film depicting the fall of an emerging gangster.
Ahmed and Sami are two young drug dealers doing their illegal business in the suburbs of Copenhagen. The viewer gets a hint about the evolution of the story right from the beginning, catching a glimpse of a big Scarface poster in the protagonist’s room. Just like it happens in the cult gangster film, our central character is a criminal that succumbs to greed and endures the revenge of the gang. His side business will also affect his buddy, Sami, who is forced to pull the trigger against him in order to keep himself safe. The audience can see the relationship of the two unfolding over the course of a day, while they drive around town, eat together and sell cocaine. The performance of the two actors is strong and focused. Ahmed is reckless, while Sami is cautious and we can see the latter worry about his friend’s side business and what will come next.
Most of the action happens in the dark, in enclosed spaces to suggest the no-exit situation, the isolation of this characters from the outer world.
However, the resolution is a bit abrupt and the twist implausible. Ahmed sells drugs at the outskirts of the city and is unlikely that breaking the rules at this level can result in his assassination from the local mob.
The visual style of this short is very diverse, mixing static shots with the hand-held camera and point-of-view shots. The camera gets close to the actor’s faces, but also stays in an observational mode, like in the car scene, when the viewer gets the backseat passenger feeling as the conversation between Ahmed and Sami goes on. The film ends with a slow zoom of Sami facing the camera.
This inconsistency of style breaks the rhythm of the story and the editing is syncopated. While the shots are masterfully created separately, I felt the need of a more homogeneous directorial vision, of more disciplined style altogether. The soundtrack consists of trance and hip-hop music, used to suggest the inner turmoil of Sami.
All things considered, “No Exit” is a character driven action film that delivers a clear story but lacks a consistent style.