101 Reykjavík is an award winning film set in Reykjavík, Iceland based on a book of the same name by Hallgrímur Helgason. It was made in 2000 and was directed by Baltasar Kormákur.

The film stars Victoria Abril, Hilmir Snær Guðnason and a host of other Icelandic actors and actresses. The name of the film is taken from the postal code for down-town Reykjavík, "the old city".

The film won 9 B-class film awards and received 10 nominations most notably winning the Discovery Film Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.


Named after a postcode of the Icelandic capital, where the main scenes take place, this is the story of the geek Hlynur (Hilmir Snær Guðnason). Approaching the grand old age of 30, he still lives with his mother, downloads cyberporn and wanders around Reykjavík half-heartedly searching for a job while spending lots of time in Kaffibarinn, the central Reykjavík bar which just happens to be owned by writer/director Baltasar Kormákur and his soundtrack composer Damon Albarn, a long-standing Icelandophile.

The cramped, dark and oddly furnished house in which Hlymur and his mother live features a bath which transfigures into a sofa as Hlynur steps naked out of it, in the middle of the lounge with his mother watching. Yet this is not enough to deter a visit from her Spanish friend, a flamenco dance instructor played with charm and sassyness in equal measure by Victoria Abril, who seems to stay for an extended amount of time for a house guest, seducing Hlymur during one of many drunken, debauched nights. All of this would be as nothing were it not for the fact that Abril's character happens to be Hlynur's mother's lesbian lover - and now they'd like to have children.

Hlynur's isolated world — no small metaphor for his home country — is going along rather blissfully ignorant of the greater joys involved with engaging in life until his mother's friend Lola Milagros (former Almodovar it-girl Victoria Abril) arrives to stay at the house for a while. Lola is a Spanish flamenco instructor with a seductive smile, a sultry voice and a carpe diem attitude. She's also in love with Hlynur's mom, Berglind (Hanna María Karlsdóttir). An enigmatic character, Lola quickly becomes the center of the household dynamic when, after a night of heavy drinking while mom is away, she and Hlynur sleep together. Hlynur is of course jealous of their relationship, realizing that he was simply a momentary fling for Lola, but he is also the dutiful son who wants to badly to accept his mother's newfound lesbianismand be happy for her. Lola wants Hlynur to get out of the house and find himself something to do, not in a mean way, but because she recognizes from the start that that's what he needs most.

Hlynur prefers to pass the time in a true slacker fashion with plenty of excess and not an iota of effort. Hlynur sees no real future for himself, rather an entire life supported by the Icelandic welfare state. "It's a great system." he says. When asked what he does, Hlynur responds with, "Nothing." Pushed further with, "What kind of nothing?" he replies the only way he can: "A nothing kind of nothing." Not even death is a serious topic for Hlynur — intoxicating, out-all-night weekends inspire, "Each weekend I drop dead." He says this while lighting up a Lucky atop a snow-capped mountain, where he lies down as the snow gradually covers him up. Easy, easy like Sunday morning.

On the other hand, Hlynur's fantasy life is alive with passion and glimpses of his subconscious show us a deeply conflicted sense of self. Flashbacks of an alcoholic father mix with sexual fantasies of the lovely Lola but quickly reveal that mom's in bed, too. During a quick trip to the suburbs for a dinner with extended family, Hlynur, so comically disturbed by the mundane family ritual (they actually gather to watch a video of last year's family dinner), imagines a bloodbath scene killing everyone at close range with a shotgun. When brought back to reality, Hlynur's blank slate and effortless personality come back into the fore: "I was thinking what a nice couch you have," he explains to the previously slaughtered family. He salvages the suburban trip with a Salinger-esque gesture, subversively letting his little cousin light and smoke a cigarette which symbolically is an attempt to light his inner self.

The film progresses as Hlynur comes to terms with his mother's love for Lola and his own feelings of inadequacy with her. The announcement that Lola is pregnant pushes him to the brink, making living under the same roof next to impossible for all three, but after a lot of acting out and flippant commentary Hlynur begins to see life little differently. The infant's arrival also symbolically coincides neatly with Hlynur's homecoming to the world outside his bedroom and a new-found contentedness.


Reykjavík is a scenic capital and provides a backdrop for the story to be played out against. Views of landmarks such as the controversial Hallgrimskirkja, the modern cathedral which dominates Reykjavík's skyline and views of Iceland's principal shopping center, Laugavegur, are shown as the sun sets.

However 101 Reykjavík is about a group of people rather than a city or a culture, so while the dramatic and often very stark landscape in and around the city feature greatly, they are less intrinsic to the plot as the escapades of the characters.

A memorable scenes from the film is when Hlymur decides to lie down in the snow and die, gangster style, but his plans are scuppered by rainfall melting his would-be tomb.

Main cast

  • Victoria Abril ... Lola
  • Hilmir Snær Guðnason ... Hlynur
  • Hanna María Karlsdóttir ... Berglind
  • Þrúður Vilhjálmsdóttir ... Hófí
  • Baltasar Kormákur ... Þröstur
  • Ólafur Darri Ólafsson ... Marri
  • Þröstur Leó Gunnarsson ... Brúsi
  • Eyvindur Erlendsson ... Hafsteinn
  • Halldóra Björnsdóttir ... Elsa
  • Hilmar Jonsson ... Magnús
  • Jóhann Sigurðarson ... Páll
  • Edda Heidrún Backman ... Kona Páls
  • Guðmundur Ingi Þorvaldsson ... Ellert
  • Gunnar Eyjólfsson ... Nágranni
  • Jónína Ólafsdóttir ... Kona á Tryggingarm

External links

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