We gave it a B-
The hero of Helgason’s sometimes ingenious slacker spin on Hamlet is Hlynur, a 33-year-old man-child lounging at home in Iceland with his mother and her new lesbian lover. He collects welfare, watches porn, dodges the girl who’s pregnant with his kid, and thinks too much. Way too much. Helgason’s writing is sometimes appropriately virtuosic, as when Hlynur contemplates nose studs or leap years or refrigerators or the Pope’s ”holy sperm keg” or the ”manless, leafless, birdless, insect-free ghost town” of Reykjavik. Published in 1996 and filmed in 2000 but just now translated into English, this is also, in many less agreeable ways, Iceland’s spin on American Psycho. Hlynur’s first-person spewings are often so incessant, static, untamed, and ugly that the book would lose little if it were 100 pages shorter.