Iceland’s chief exports include fish and woolen goods; the country might do worse than to add domestic dramas to the list. In The Seagull’s Laughter, screenwriter-director Agust Gudmundsson offers the sort of keenly observed, art-house fodder that Brits have lately specialized in. Through a lens drably, Gudmundsson charts the return of Freya (Margret Vilhjalmsdottir) to her native fishing village. Freya’s years in America, which concluded with the mysterious death of her young husband, have transformed her from small-town chub to leggy glamour girl. Surly ‘tween Agga (Ugla Egilsdottir) resents her prodigal cousin and grows suspicious when men who get in Freya’s way meet untimely ends.
Seagull has the air of wanting to introduce more weighty themes—provincial mores, post-WWII feminism—than it actually confronts. Nevertheless, it provides some swell roles for actresses and intriguing local detail, as when Freya, recounting a lover’s tryst, says, dreamy-eyed, “Then we took the path up through the fish-drying racks.”