The title character of Nói is a lanky 17-year-old misfit with chalky skin, spooked eyes, and a shaved head that makes him look like Billy Corgan with a touch of Peter Lorre. Nói (Tómas Lemarquis), who lives with his grandmother on a fjord in the north of Iceland, shambles around his tiny snowbound village giving off the rawboned sociopathic vibe of a ’70s punk. At school, he hands in a test having written nothing on it but his name. It would be fair to call him a delinquent, but he’s an outcast with no visible trace of guile.
Sitting around with his drunken father, or wooing the pretty girl who works at a convenience store, Nói may be a stoic enigma, but his actions reveal a silent itch to connect. Woe to anyone, however, who interacts with this passive screwup who moves through his life like a phantom. He has emerged from the frigid nothingness of rural Iceland itself – or, at least, the Iceland of director Dagur Kári’s slightly sinister imagination, a white-on-white expanse of surreal depopulated quiet that is mystical in its very claustrophobia. ”Nói” is paced a bit too glacially for my taste, yet it’s worth sitting through for its trick ending, a twist of events as ominous as the landscape.