ALEXANDER BISLEY reports from the Wellington Film Society. This week: West Iceland’s Donnie.

“LAUGH or cry at the stupidity of the world; you will regret both,” Noi Albinoi’s bookshop owner quotes Kierkegaard. Like Jar City, Dagur Kari’s imaginatively composed film taps into Icelandic unease. Fusing Donnie Darko’s spirit with Aki Kaurismaki’s comic minimalism, Noi Albinoi taps into a rich vein of teen angst.

The setting is bracingly original. Noi Albinoi (Tomas Lernarquis), 17, lives in the mother of all trying, isolated places: An icy village in rural Western Iceland. Atmospherically crafted, employing Iceland’s striking villagescape, the story unfurls on Arctic time. Noi’s frustrated and desperate, intelligent and rather likeable. He’s examined by an eerie school psychologist, giving short shrift to questions about his personal habits.

Noi’s father is a volatile drunk. “Kiddi! What are you doing here?” “I’ve come to raise my son.” “Isn’t that a little bit late?” From a dance routine to a wake-up method, his grandmother provides some idiosyncratic black humour. Unlike the forced, synthetic Napoleon Dynamite, Noi Albinoi is genuine, eccentric comedy, like a culinary accident.

Tiring with the inanity of the local school, Noi sends a tape recorder to take his place. His headmaster castigates him for being bereft of respect and discipline.

Noi falls in love with fetching Iris (Elin Hansdottir), who works at the petrol station cafe, and plots to get out. The tactile atmosphere is heightened by slowblow’s music.