Scandinavian Film Festival is on at the Palace Cinemas, so friend and I went to see this Norwegian feature. I’m a sucker for the scenery, and I have a basic love for the “characters go out into the wilderness to find themselves” subgenre. It’s a very minimalist film with virtually no plot which centres on Martin, a 30-something man who feels like his life is in a rut. He’s bored with his job and his marriage, and though he clearly loves his little son he’s got no idea how to relate to him in a meaningful way. So he sets out on a lone hike across the local mountains for the weekend, and that’s pretty much the whole movie – Martin trekking along while we listen to his stream-of-consciousness voiceover. He agonises a lot over his marriage and his relationship with his son, thinks back to his own remote unaffectionate father, his old carefree life before the marriage which in its own way was just as much of a rut, and imagines scenarios of how his life could be. Plus, he thinks about sex a lot. You know you’re watching a European movie when there’s casual full-frontal male nudity galore.
I’ve always found the whole concept of listening to the characters’ thoughts in movies a tad contrived (more so than in the books), because they never fail to think in perfectly worded sentences, and some of the supposed thoughts in this movie sound too much like deliberate narration. Once I got over the artificiality of it, the movie was enjoyable. Something as simple as this requires a perfectly judged tone, and they got it just right through the editing, music and the stunning scenery. While the overall mood is angsty, there’s also a subtle comedic touch to the movie and the kind of odd Scandinavian sensibility which is hard to pin down but which runs through all of their movies, books and TV. It’s just nice to take a break from the American/British cinema sometimes.
The only blip was a couple of inconsiderate old people sitting behind us who would not shut up throughout the movie. Just because the cinema is near empty, it does not make it ok people!