A down-on-his-luck criminal escapes from the aftermath of his latest crime. Laying low in northern Denmark, he embarks on a road trip to escape, making his way through the beautiful, desolate landscape.
At one point, he catches sight of a beautiful rainbow, which signals the start of a journey of introspection and self-examination. But as he journeys into his past — including meeting with his sister and a former lover — will his past eventually catch up to him, just as he glimpses a hint of a new future, and possibly a new hope?
Writer-director Caspar Balslev and co-writer Gamst Miller-Harris have created a taut, meditative drama has the plot tropes and hard-bitten dialogue of a crime thriller or even film noir. There’s a hitman on the lam and on a journey of seeming repentance, as well as an edgy, tense score that underscores a constant, pervasive sense of violence that chases the main character. With its emphasis on milieu and setting, the film also has the feel of a Western, emphasizing the main character’s societal isolation and the lawlessness of his world.
But with its stunning attention to visual detail, from the evocative dark yet luminous lighting to the elegant framing of northern Denmark’s stunningly wild, windswept landscapes, the film becomes something altogether more existential and even spiritual. As he sees the rainbow again and again, he is transformed by his small but significant encounter in nature, which causes him to rethink his life and his path.
Actor Jonathan Harboe plays the part of the hitman with great economy, able to juggle the hard-boiled, laconic persona of the experienced criminal with a man slowly confronting his past, present and future. This isn’t an easy journey, however. His most cherished fantasies and worst nightmares begin to bleed into his reality. He’s haunted by visions of his own demise, and sees himself being hunted down by a vengeful, shadowy adversary. For both him and the viewers, the lines between dreams and reality are increasingly blurred — much to his peril at his most dangerous moment.
“End of the Rainbow” is on the longer side for a short, and its narrative scope is wide, psychologically and geographically. By the time the main character reaches the end of his journey, the film beautifully injects a sense of transcendence into the story, with a stunning final shot that offers the character and the audience a hard-won peace, and a place of refuge and rest.