Pusher may share superficial similarities with the work of ‘90s crime-film godfather Quentin Tarantino, but Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn’s electrifying debut soon morphs into something far more opaque and unsettling than a mere genre retread. In a Copenhagen brimming with scumbags and whores, mid-level drug dealer Frank (Kim Bodnia) and his crony Tonny (Mads Mikkelsen) bounce around the city doing minor deals and living the profane life, blathering about dirty sex and staging drunken mock knife fights in pubs while omnipresent heavy metal mirrors their aggro-machismo. Refn’s handheld camerawork laces this first half with a rambunctious uneasiness that tips into full-scale anxiety once a deal goes south and Frank has to return empty-handed to Milo (Zlatko Buric), a Balkan cretin higher up the narco-food chain to whom he’s already in serious debt. In need of fast cash, Frank slowly succumbs to desperate measures, and Refn’s depiction of his low-life protagonist’s pitiful attempts to make cash – via stalling tactics, strong-arming debtors, and robbery – has a nerve-jangling aesthetic fretfulness. Yet more unsettling still is Frank’s response to fate repeatedly stymieing his efforts to escape his predicament. Whether attacking Tonny because of suspicions that he confessed to the cops, callously rebuffing the advances of the hooker, Vic (Laura Drasbaek), for whom he has feelings, or going blank-faced unresponsive in the face of impending torture and death from Milo’s henchman Radovan (Slavko Labovic), Frank proves a sleazeball doomed as much by amorality than his specific actions, and one whom Refn – in a final shot of Frank weighing his escape-or-die options – leaves hanging in imprisoning limbo.