Fitzcarraldo hoisted a steamboat over a Peruvian mountain so that a tiny village could experience opera. Not literally as high-reaching but no less passionate is the quest of Vincent (Magnus Aronson), a moped-driving, sweetly misguided visionary who yearns to bring a mobile disco to the sparsely populated hills of southern Scotland in Laurin Federlein's Build a Ship. This beautifully daffy road-movie musical is as inspired, whimsical, and commercially unconcerned as its protagonist. Perhaps most peculiar is the shared writing credit (between Aronson, who also conceived the delicate electro-pop and acoustic confessionals heard throughout, and British-based German director Federlein), since the film is more improvised than Borat. When Vincent isn't tooling around the mountainous roads, huffing his fuel tank, or musing on the inanity of sheep, he shares his dreams with actual confounded locals, none of whom seem aware that they're being filmed. But unlike that wily Kazakhstani's own travelogue, there isn't a fleck of condescension here—not toward the townspeople, nor toward Vincent—and in a mere 68 minutes, the joy of solitude and the loneliness of recruitment become as contagious as a night on the dance floor but, well, more pensive.
Ship builder Aronson on his mission.
Runs at Northwest Film Forum, Mon., April 7–Thurs., April 10. Not rated. 68 minutes.