The protagonist of Baltasar Kormákur’s first feature, 101 Reykjavík, never wants to leave the area named in the title. After all, 101 is apparently Reykjavík’s equivalent of 20009—urban, lively, and untouched by geysers, glaciers, or other reminders that Iceland is not exactly a temperate zone. The director’s second film relocates to a small Icelandic fishing village, and none of the characters seems too happy to be there. When crusty patriarch Thórthur (Gunnar Eyjólfsson) summons his offspring to discuss the future of the family fish-processing business, youngest son Agúst (Hilmir Snær Guthnason) doesn’t want to leave his music studies in Paris—where he’s supposed to be majoring in business—to make the trip. His pregnant French girlfriend, Françoise (Va Savoir’s Hélène DeFougerolles), insists that they go, and she soon learns why Agúst tried to skip the family showdown: His hometown is bleak and dying, and his clan is a cauldron of rage, greed, and jealousy. Dad intends that Agúst take over the business, which outrages older brother Haraldur (Sigurthur Skúlason), who’s been running it. Thórthur’s resentful daughter Ragnheithur (Guthrún Gísladóttir) just wants as much money as she can get. And the trio’s stepsister, Maria (Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir), craves neither power nor money but Agúst, her too-intimate childhood playmate. Director and co-writer Kormákur has said he wanted his second film to be very different from the playful Reykjavík, and in some ways it is. Despite being set almost as far north as human civilization goes, The Sea is an overripe family-meltdown saga that suggests the tales of such Southerners as Faulkner. Shot in widescreen, the movie also has a dramatic look and a melodramatic atmosphere. But such motifs as ennui and pregnancy—as well as a touch of incest—linger from the previous movie. The real disparity between the two is that this one expresses the mood of declining small-town Iceland—which means that all of Kormákur’s characters would be better off in 101 Reykjavík, if not Paris’ Fourth Arrondissement. —Mark Jenkins