Directors Pepe Andreu and Rafael Moles reel in the audience with this real-life (shell) fish, umm crustacean, tale that warms the cockles of the heart. This documentary of the Bryggjan Café in Iceland is just what is needed in trying times like these where goodness, warmth and togetherness can be in short supply. Brothers Alli and Krilli, who reside in the harbour town of Grindavik, have run their little eatery in the same building as their net-making business since 1974. The specialty of the house is Krilli’s lobster soup, and it’s put them on the map.
For Bryggjan isn’t just a place to grab some grub and a drink. It’s a place where the townspeople come to chat and read, listen to music, poetry and storytelling and talk about the catch of the day for Grindavik is a working fishing port. Old photos line the walls of boats, their crew and catch. There’s a bookcase and newspapers are scattered around. Taxidermy have a pride of place and so do barometers and like instruments. Krilli and his wife do the cooking while Alli, well, Alli sits with a core group of old-timers and reminisces. They also talk about politics a lot and history, the world in general and try to solve its problems. It’s a homey place, and the directors give the audience vignettes of some patrons. There’s Hermann, who may be the town’s millionaire and who’s made some of his fortune from down feathers (you won’t believe what’s in his garage). Also, a musician, retired fishermen and Iceland’s last national boxing champion Fridrik, who the ladies love and who’ll break your heart.
The café is only minutes away from the big attraction the Blue Lagoon and on the way to the main airport, so word has spread. Now tourists come by the busload to sample the brother’s hospitality and famous soup. The film’s photography shows off the country’s beauty and unforgivable weather. Besides white, the palette is colourful and cheery. The whole film is welcoming, while informing you about Iceland and its history with a well-kept pace.
All is not well on the horizon, though. There’s a possible volcanic eruption overhead and developers want to buy the café. Will everyone make it through the choppy sea? There’s sadness straight ahead, but that just makes Lobster Soup more endearing and authentic and just what you need to order from the menu.
Showing as part of WOW Film Festival’s Ecosinema season until Sun 26 Sept. Info and streaming: here
Dir: Pepe Andreu, Rafael Moles (2020, PG, 97 mins)
words RHONDA LEE REALI