22 July

Out Now On-Demand

Director Paul Greengrass (United 93) examines the aftermath of the 2011 Norway attacks in which 77 people were killed by a far-right extremist. In competition at the Venice Film Festival 2018. 

Trailers

Directed by

Written by

Drama, Thriller, True Story & Biography, Festival & Independent

143mins

Norway, Iceland, USA

Around two thirds of the way through 22 July a character lists all the far-right extremist groups operating in the world today, including the American neo-nazi forum Stormfront. It’s one of several moments where director Paul Greengrass points out that the resurgence of fascism isn’t restricted to Europe, and it certainly isn’t going away.

It’s that aspect that makes this true story more terrifying than any horror film, with a thoroughly loathsome villain in mass-murderer Anders Breivik. At one point he refers to the millions of people who secretly agree with his racist agenda, implying that they’re everywhere, waiting for an excuse. Recent events with tiki-torch wielding meatheads would tend to bear that out.

People have wondered about Greengrass’ fondness for restaging appalling real-life events, but in this case the intention is clear—it’s a warning. As usual he aims for accuracy and realism, making the film with a Norwegian cast and crew, so it initially seems strange that his actors speak in English. According to the director this desire to reach the broadest audience is the same reason he made the film for Netflix, a platform favoured by young people. Forewarned is forearmed.

Thankfully the attacks are dealt with relatively quickly (they are appropriately stomach churning), after which the bulk of 22 July deals with the fallout, as a survivor undergoes a painful recovery, Breivik’s lawyer wrestles with guilt, and the Prime Minister considers the ramifications.

There are moments near the end when you can feel the movie ease away from the truth to deliver the type of satisfying payoffs that don’t exist in real life, but they are welcome after such a grueling setup. It is, as expected, superbly acted and thrillingly paced. And while it’s a film too steeped in actual tragedy to describe as ‘entertainment’, it’s engrossing, thought-provoking, and well worth your time.

Hollywood Reporter

press

It's both a pulse-pounding depiction of the deadly attacks that shook Norway in 2011 and a sober investigation of the aftermath, evolving into a gripping courtroom drama and a tremendously emotional personal account of one family's struggle to move on.

The Guardian

press

22 July is a brave and careful film.

The Times (UK)

press

Small, vicious moments...define a film that's admirably lacking in histrionics. Its restraint makes the courtroom climax hit even harder.

TimeOut (London)

press

'22 July' offers few surprises, and even fewer opportunities for Paul Greengrass to flex his filmmaking muscles.

Variety (USA)

press

It's intelligently stern, storm-gray filmmaking, as we've come to expect from Greengrass; if it feels a bit mechanical as well, perhaps this is a near-impossible story to film with both tact and soul.

The Telegraph (UK)

press

A sharp, scouring work of moral seriousness from Greengrass.