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"Pioneer": Where There's a Norwegian Oil Boom, There's a Conspiracy 

Tuesday, Dec 16 2014
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It was recently in the news that Norway's decades-long oil boom is tapering off, which makes Erik Skjoldbjærg's film all the more timely. Set at the beginning of the boom, it's sort of a Norwegian riff on Silkwood, taking place not long after the events of that movie and in a similarly working-class milieu. Petter (Askel Hennie) is a diver determined to reach the bottom of the Norwegian Sea, doing so under the aegis of the Norwegian government as well as American oil interests. When things go awry on a dive and Petter's brother Knut (André Eriksen) dies, Petter becomes obsessed with solving the mystery, uncovering a conspiracy made all the more dangerous by the fact that he may be suffering from brain damage and can no longer quite trust his own grasp on reality. In addition to harkening back to older American thrillers, Pioneer is about a time when a new flush of resources and money changed Norway's national character. Then again, on two separate occasions, a female scientist by the name of Pia (Ane Dahl Torp) gets flashed by male crew members — including Petter, the hero — and it's not considered any big deal. In other words, even before the influx of wealth, Norway was already displaying some of America's worst tendencies.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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