It's incredibly safe to say that Trygve Luktvasslimo's The Bitcoin Car isn't going to be a film for everyone. The Bitcoin Car practically defines what it means to be an experimental film, a glorious indie project with a social conscience and a song in its heart and mind. The film had its world premiere at Norway's Arctic Arts Film Festival and is now set for its international premiere at January 2024's Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
The Bitcoin Car is a bit difficult to describe. It's a musical adventure in which a young goat farmer, Gloria (Sunniva Birkeland Johansen), living on a small coastal village finds herself set on a collision course with a young crypto investor. Initially cooperative with the birth of a gold-plated bitcoin mining facility on top of the cemetery where her parents are buried, she's confronted with the consequences of her choices when her brother, Lukas (Henrik Paus), comes home for the summer and she has to acknowledge her actions.
There's such a vibrance to The Bitcoin Car that it's impossible to not truly enjoy the film. It's a musical, really a musical, and I'm not sure I ever expected to sit down and watch a Norwegian musical centered around bitcoin. The fact that I'm doing this on the first day of 2024 really sets the tone for the rest of the year.
In the film, Gloria has accepted a lot of money from the crypto investor in order to pimp out and gold plate her old Toyota. This set-up itself is incredibly inspired, quirky at first thought but rather stark when you contemplate the various reasons we make such decisions in our own lives. After unexplained disturbances start to happen and her baby goat Klamydia is found dead and completely white, Gloria teams up with her sibling, an electrician, and a priest to uncover the crypto mine's secrets before everyone in her village is put in danger.
If you're not smiling now, you're incapable of smiling.
Here's the thing. The Bitcoin Car is really a tragicomedy. There are undeniably moments here that are genuinely funny, however, Luktvasslimo has also crafted a narrative that is thoughtful and rather pointed. It's the kind of film where at first you laugh and then you start thinking about it all.
Johansen is an absolute wonder here with a performance that is both sincere and otherworldly. This is her first feature film appearance and she's tasked with quite a lot to accomplish. She does so quite beautifully and has an aura about her that is charismatic and compelling.
As Lukas, Paus has a similar energy and his scenes with Johansen sizzle with a believable familial chemistry. Paus is also a newcomer and both Paus and Johansen's inexperience likely lends their performances a sort of naturalness that is a delight to watch.
Lensing by Rasmus West is vibrant and creative along with the drone photography from Philip Halvorsen. Original music by Victoria Sergeenko has an almost mystical, ethereal quality about it and adds to the film's sense of being both tragedy and comedy.
For those with more adventurous cinematic tastes, The Bitcoin is a "don't miss" film. You'll have two opportunities to catch it at Slamdance and I recommend that you do.
THE BITCOIN CAR Slamdance Screening information:
Saturday, January 20 at 4:30PM
The Yarrow – Theater B
Tuesday, January 23 at 10:00AM
The Yarrow – Theater B
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic