A disciplined and rather dowdy manager of a fast-food restaurant whose bright red attire belies her cold existence, Fiona (Fiona Gordon) one evening after close accidentally locks herself in the walk-in freezer. She isn't discovered by her staff until the next morning, when she's crushed to realize that her husband Julien (Dominique Abel) and two children didn't even notice that she was missing. The experience renders her fascinated with all things chilly, and one day she hops into the back of a frozen-goods delivery truck and embarks on a journey to visit a real, live iceberg, striking up a tender friendship with a deaf-mute sailor, Rene (Philippe Martz), along the way.
The first feature film by a trio of European-based performance artists, Belgium's lovely L'Iceberg combines physical comedy with visual poetry for cinema of sublime humor, beauty and melancholy. For all intents and purposes a silent movie, with words (and sounds, for that matter) uttered only when it would be too awkward not to, the film relies instead on comedic bits and aesthetics. Such a setup requires a certain suspension of disbelief: Low-budget production values find the sky rocking along with a boat during “stormy” weather, and this is apparently an entire nation of near-mutes who remain conveniently ignorant of activity going on around them when it's required of the plot.
But, like with Buster Keaton ( The Boat , natch, comes to mind), that's all part of the fun, and L'Iceberg is poignantly shot as a series of static landscapes into and out of and through which the characters move. At its most stunning, the technique finds contrary actions and moods coexisting in different parts of the frame, with certain acts all the more heartbreaking when witnessed only at a distance. Particularly funny is Julien's drowsy early-morning attempt at getting dressed in his underclothes, and especially exquisite is Fiona's spontaneous middle-of-the-night ghostly wrangling with her bed linens. Distributor: First Run
Cast: Fiona Gordon, Dominique Abel, Philippe Marz and Lucy Tulugarjuk
Directors/Screenwriters: Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon & Bruno Romy
Producers: Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon
Genre: Comedy; French-language, subtitled
Running time: 84 min.
Release date: May 4, 2007 NY