The Bothersome Man (15)
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Time Out says
Thu Oct 19 2006Hell is furnished by IKEA in this grimly chucklesome absurdist fable from Norwegian writer Per Schreiner and director Jens Lien. We open at a shack of a petrol station in a starkly beautiful dustbowl, where Andreas (Trond Fausa Aurvåg) disembarks dishevelled from a bus before being bundled off to a ready-made city life of office work and bourgeois ease. His colleagues seem unflappably contented, not to mention rapt in domestic interior design, but something is not quite right: there are no colours, no music, no children, no pleasure – or pain. No one really seems to be living – or, for that matter, dying...
Partly funded by the Icelandic Film Company, ‘The Bothersome Man’ shares the deadpan absurdism that has become the country’s filmic trademark, lacing the discomfiting banality of its ‘Groundhog Day’-in-Stepford set-up with pitch-black humour, and also moments of grisly (if no less deadpan) violence. John Christian Rosenlund’s photography is a luminous, elegantly composed treat too, despite the palette of ice, lead and mud. But, shades of Kafka notwithstanding (notably ‘The Trial’), the film’s paranoid existentialism and consumerist satire feel somewhat one-note; with limited narrative and conceptual development, what would perhaps have made for a consummate half-hour or even hour feels stretched over more – especially as when a potential source of change is eventually introduced it comes off as disappointingly trite. That said, it remains witty, unnerving and visually accomplished to the final, disorienting shot.
Author: Ben Walters
Fri May 25, 2007