A young woman in a flower crown stands in disbelief in front of a shining gold-plated car.

Slamdance Film Review: The Bitcoin Car

Film Reviews

Slamdance Film Review: The Bitcoin Car
Director: Trygve Luktvasslimo

Premiere: 01.20

Singing electrons, a herd of goats named after STDs and a beautiful young farm girl walk into a Norwegian Bitcoin mine. Now, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, although I doubt you have. The Bitcoin Car is a dark and campy Norwegian musical-comedy with a lot to say, and they say it well (and through song). The Bitcoin Car is written, directed and edited by Trygve Luktvasslimo (The Vegan Toothbrush, Shallow Water Blackout) in his feature film debut and gorgeously shot by director of photography, Rasmus West (Till Drömmarnas Land). This is not a film to skip out on, even if you’re a self-proclaimed musical hater. 

The film starts with the model, younger brother Lukas (no guys, he’s a model, literally) of our lead Gloria (Sunniva Birkeland Johansen) flying home to visit his sister on her farm in Norway. Unbeknownst to Lukas (Henrik Paus), Gloria—along with the rest of the residents of their island—decided to sell the graveyard where their loved ones are buried while receiving a substantial compensation from a Bitcoin mine to not relocate their bodies. Keeping the money to herself, even though it’s both Gloria’s and Lukas’ parents buried there, Gloria goldplates her old Toyota Corolla and fixes up her idyllic farmhouse with the money. Things take a turn for the worst, however, when Gloria and the other islanders start seeing the effects that the Bitcoin mine takes on their land.  

There’s a lot to unpack in the film’s (now fairly uncommon) 94-minute runtime. Luktvasslimo attempts to explain what exactly cryptocurrency is (spoiler alert: still, no one understands) all while taking us on an emotionally complex and musically comedic journey of Gloria. The film not only covers Gloria’s repercussions from agreeing to this deal but also identifies themes of love, existentialism, death and the never ending cycle that is existence and how it comes for all of us in some way eventually. The film also draws a lot of interesting parallels between the “old-school” way of mining and its comparison to this present day way of “bitcoin mining.” 

I understand how a foreign musical-comedy with a title like The Bitcoin Car could scare away a lot of viewers, but this is a film done right. Luktvasslimo works overtime to give each individual character a backstory and motivation then finds a way to interweave all of them together to make one coherent story and goal for everyone to achieve. West then takes all that Luktvasslimo is trying to say and curates some of the most visually stunning and intentional frames I‘ve seen in recent years. The duo are a match made in electron heaven. The casting itself is also an impressive feat. Johansen, Paus and Johannes Winther Farstad, who plays Gloria’s love interest Viljami, each have multiple moments throughout where they absolutely steal the scene they’re in. 

A lot of the humor in this film comes from its sporadically—yet never missing the mark—timed musical numbers. With songs like “Viljami Karjalainen” and “Death Unites Us,” you’ll be thinking about this movie, and singing to yourself, long after it ends. 

It’s films like these, the weird and out-there concepts that might not be mainstream or marketable, that remind jaded artists (a.k.a. recent graduate film students like myself) why we decided to delve into the art of film in the first place: the goal is to not only say something meaningful, but to create something weird as hell that inspires those around you to keep making weird-as-hell art. I loved The Bitcoin Car and I loved that it reminded me just how much I love film. Especially the weird ones.  –Alliyah Uribe

Read more of SLUG‘s comprehensive coverage of the 2024 Slamdance Film Festival.