Countdown to CIFF: #3. Sons of Norway

For the 10 days leading up to CIFF’s opening gala, I’ll be posting a quick write-up per day on some of my favourite movies at the fest. I’m not exactly unbiased — CIFF does give me a paycheque, after all — but these posts are my own opinions and not those of the festival.

As someone born a few years after punk broke, it’s hard to listen to a band like the Sex Pistols without wondering what that music sounded like to people at the time. I know that there’s danger and genuine shock in that music, but actually hearing it as something new and frightening and exciting and liberating is an experience I’ll just never have. But Sons of Norway does a respectable job of showing how punk and other cultural movements can reshape lives.

A sorta-comic coming-of-age story, Sons of Norway follows a father and son as they try to come to terms with a tragedy in the family. From the start, they’re not exactly normal, living in a planned community where a “down with the patriarchy” rally is seen as somewhat festive. But as the father slumps into a depression, the son discovers the world of punk rock and rebellion through the Pistols’ singles, and pretty soon is wreaking havoc on the town. Which’d be fine, except that the Pistols also ignite dad’s passion, and rebellion’s kind of hard when your dad’s in the band.

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