Movies that are slightly off.
The Bothersome Man
Forty-year-old Andreas arrives in a strange city with no memory of how he got there. He is presented with a job, an apartment - even a wife. But before long, Andreas notices that something is wrong. Andreas makes an attempt to escape the city, but he discovers there's no way out. Andreas meets Hugo, who has found a crack in a wall in his cellar. Beautiful music streams out from the crack. Maybe it leads to "the other side"? A new plan for escape is hatched.
I love dystopian films. I love them even more when I don't know that they are going to be dystopian films.
With something of a nod and a wink towards the likes of Brazil and even Nothing Lasts Forever, The Bothersome Man is a Norwegian blackly comic fantasy about a man who is taken to a mysterious town and doesn't quite understand the bland yet happy and strangely unaware existence that the townsfolk lead.
This is a world that seems to be strangely lacking in colour from the moment he is dropped outside the town, at a strangely isolated petrol station, by…
A quite wonderful discovery thanks to an unplanned detour to my local library. The Bothersome Man is a satire of modern consumerism and obsession with appearances, a surreal comedy and utopia gone wrong, a fable about daring to be different, an original tale of what may even be the afterlife yet still manages to recall Jeunet et Caro, Gilliam, Andersson and Wenders, even more specifically at times I was thinking of The Truman Show, The Matrix and Wristcutters. Beautifully framed using an unassuming palette of greys and blues and filled with wonderfully strange moments that more often than not will have you laughing out loud, I can't think why I'd never heard of this one before.
The easiest comparison to The Bothersome Man I can make is Fight Club without Tyler Durden and a dash of Being John Malkovich thrown in for good measure. Nowhere near as pervasively cynical as those two films, Norway's The Bothersome Man also benefits from a protagonist (Andreas, played by an impressive Trond Fausa Aurvåg) who is actually sympathetic for a majority of the film, if the story does drag him into sad-sackitude just a little too often. As a satire on the mundanity of everyday life, it can get very heavy-handed, but the dashes of fantasy keep it from being overwhelmingly morose. I thought the opening scene was a very clever use of misdirection, and while making everything after its…
In the world of The Bothersome Man, everything is done dutifully. Working, eating, having sex, loving, everything has an emotionless neatness to it. Our hero, however, doesn't fit in. He remembers things from a previous existence from another world, another life. He does not know how he got where he is, nor does he seem to remember why he is there. Or why he doesn't seem to be able to die for that matter.
This weird universe we are shown works as a wonderfully sharp satire on our everyday preoccupations. The people that inhabit Andreas' hell only concern themselves with material needs and are robot like in their emotions. What really works in this film is that we get some…
In a satirical look at a world cleansed of passion Jens Lien provides us with a stark reminder that the world in which we live, filled with disagreements, hate, violence and pain is also the only world in which we can excercise our free will to love, cherish, and be happy. We see the 'utopian' society in which everyone gets along through the eyes of Andreas, who arrives in this world for an unknown reason. He is provided with the most basic and inoffensive necessities: shelter, a job, money, tasteless food, alcohol that doesn't get you drunk, acquaintances who have mundane dinner parties, permanently 'good' weather, a quiet monochrome landscape and more important, a world free of degeneration.
What an excellent film, Jens Lien directs this black comedy-mystery-drama with aplomb. Andreas arrives in a strange city where everyone seems content, happy and get everything they want, but is it all too good to be true? The people here are unworried, but everything seems mundane. There's no excitement, and something is definitely off. This is is highlighted brilliantly by Lien and cinematographer John Christian Rosenlund, who drain all the colour from the camera to create this grotesque grey palette that the whole film is bathed in. There's also some great stylistic choices to highlight the lack of anything interesting in the city. There's no music, not a child to be found (though some may call that a blessing), nothing…
"I'm going to leave you"
"We're having guests on Saturday"
"I haven't found an exact time, but I wanted you to know"
"Are you leaving before Saturday?"
"I can stay until Saturday"
"That would be good"
This exchange between the lead character and his soon to be ex-girlfriend is delivered without emotion. This is a world where people talk endlessly about furniture and cake, where alcohol no longer gets you drunk, and where nobody bats an eye at a blood-drenched accident victim walking home down a bright, sunlit street. This is...utopia?
Interesting film out of Norway, with an interesting premise and style that reminded me a bit of Being John Malkovic.
I liked everything they were trying to do with this film. It was odd, quirky and absurd. This is my kind of film. But ultimately, although it is not as bland as the subdued and sanitised world we see skewered in the film, it felt a little limp and lifeless by the end.
During the first part of the film while they established their little world and set the tone it was a really good film. After that I think they felt so much pressure to do something really cool with what they had created that they froze and it all fizzled.
Great effort. There is certainly something twisted in the rarefied air of Scandinavia. In the mean time where did I put my Roy Andersson box set again...
One of the rare comedies at their bleakest.
A petite surrealist film on the fiction of the progressive-capitalist dream and its icon, the [masculine] subject of pleasure. Often visually striking. The last third is a sort of counterpoint to the first two-thirds. Occasionally "a bit much" or a bit too dry, but I really enjoyed the flatness of a lot of moments of this film. Andreas is both the subject of pleasure and the one who cannot be that subject.
More gruesome yet ultimately less melancholy than the work of Roy Andersson (Mubi made the comparison between the two filmmakers, hence my decision to frame it like this). The Bothersome Man doesn't hit quite as hard as Andersson's work, and it is easier to decode, but it made me laugh in much the same way. Are all Swedish filmmakers masters of deadpan? I will continue to watch Swedish films until my stereotype is confirmed or disproven and I will be happy with the results either way.
Roy Andersson meets Terry Gilliam
"Nothing has any taste," a mysterious man proclaims behind a bathroom stall.
THE BOTHERSOME MAN is a sharply constructed dystopia flick that highlights the dull, grey realities of capitalism.
With a bit of sadistic humor peppered in for good measure.
Andreas Ramsjfell wanders around Norway. Depressed by the seeming meaningless of his life, he lies down on a train track to die, but instead he finds himself working in an office building. His life in this world is even more meaningless. The only thing that provides any glimmer of purpose is a desperate materialism. He tries to escape, but cannot. Finally, he finds a crack in a basement which seems to lead to a promising world beyond, but his elation is short-lived. He's caught trying to reach the other world and banished.
This is darkly comic look at the meaninglessness of most things in life. The way in which we assign meaning to things in a desperate attempt to provide purpose to our lives. It's a dark and depressing look at the world, but it's compellingly told.
All films I've seen from Nordic countries...