Driving into the Slamdance 2024 film festival is a new film from director Trygve Luktvasslimo called The Bitcoin Car. Lukas, the son of goat farmers, takes a trip to visit his sister Gloria who has been taking care of the farm since the passing of their parents. When he arrives, he discovers that a Bitcoin “mine” has been built on top of the graves of his parents. All of the residents of the town and surrounding area were given money for the land by the company who built the mine. Gloria is not only morally conflicted for accepting the money, which she used to gold plate her car, but also worries that the Bitcoin “mine” is having a dangerous effect on the people, animals, and land around it. Meanwhile the owner of the Bitcoin “mine”, Rita, has her own personal reason for creating the mine that has little to do with crypto currency, a fact that only those closest to her know. With the help of her brother, a utility worker, and gospel priest, Gloria sets out on a mission to find out the truth. In between singing numbers, farming, and working on getting her grandma's species of garlic into the scientific book of botany.
The Bitcoin Car is a delightful, upbeat, fever dream that reminded me of an abstract watercolor painting with streaks of gold in it. While the story Trygve Luktvasslimo wrote touches on a variety of subjects including global warming, capitalism, government control, and euthenasia, at its core it is a story about old vs new. Old is represented by Gloria who is into organic everything, keeping with traditions, and a defender of nature. Her protest of the Bitcoin Mine is not just because they built it over her parents grave, but because she also sees the effect it has on her goats and the surrounding fauna. New is represented by the Bitcoin “mine” and her more scientific brother. Sunniva Birkeland Johansen brings a massive amount of positive energy to Gloria. Even when she is upset, it comes off in a positive way. She gets multiple chances to demonstrate her talent as a singer over the course of the story. I particularly enjoyed her song “Gloria”. She has a great connection with Henrik Paus, who plays Gloria’s brother Lukas. Lukas is the more scientific minded of the two, and the more modern. The debates between them feel like authentic discussions that will give the audience food for thought. Rita is the person behind the Bitcoin “mine”. Zoe Winther-Hansen gives Rita more layers than just the big, bad rich person. She brings a sympathetic layer in her performance. She gets her own musical number where she sings with three floating electrons. Her voice brings beauty to a song that is tragic.
The visuals of The Bitcoin Car help give this story its own identity, especially the use of gold. Whenever anyone bursts into song, a golden light manages to shine from behind them and it is very effective. There is a moment when Gloria justifies why she gold-plated her car; it is because it was her most valuable possession. After that we see other characters from town with their own gold plated items. Thanks to the scene with Gloria, it suddenly gives these items more meaning than simply being a cool visual. There are a variety of different languages used by all of the cast; English, Estonian, Latin, Norwegian, and French. It kept conversations unique and the diversity in the language fit the story. There is even a song that involves the difference in dialects.
There are not many films like The Bitcoin Car out there. It does feel a bit random at times with not all the pieces fitting together in a linear narrative which may be a turnoff for some. I loved the imaginative story and the chances they took with it, though I would have liked the ending to be a little less abrupt. If you are looking for something refreshingly different and quirky then this is definitely for you. I would recommend you watch it with someone so you have someone to talk to about it when the credits roll because there is a lot to unpack from the trunk of The Bitcoin Car.
I have been reviewing films since high school. I love discussing films with those who share my passion for them. I also do video reviews on YouTube and on my podcast.