Sunday, May 8, 2011

Scandinavian Film Fest 2011: Review 'The Bothersome Man (Den Brysomme Mannen)'

Let me first start off by saying that this is my own personal Scandinavian film fest, not any official fest, mostly because it takes place in my bedroom in Michigan. I decided that, between trying to find something to watch on TV and what was already in my Netflix queue and having zero luck, I would turn to Scandinavia, a place I want to visit but can't afford. I'm also learning Swedish for personal growth and for fun so I figured that a virtual trip to the Nordic lands via cinema was a good, cheap vacation.

I've already written about 'Troubled Water (DeUsynlige)', a wonderful drama from Norway on a previous day and have since watched about three more movies. The film I am going to write about this evening I watched two nights ago called 'The Bothersome Man (Den Brysomme Mannen)' and hails from Norway as well. Released in 2006, this film is a very Kafka-esque, surreal "nightmare" of a film, and what I mean by that comes in later, that is partly black comedy and part social commentary and stars Trond Fausa Aurvaag and Petronella Barker. I have mixed feelings about this movie, I can't decide whether I liked it or not.

The movie opens with a man, named Andreas, standing on a subway platform staring into the camera. He looks to the side and sees a couple sucking face, quite literally sucking face. It's one of the most awkward and weird things to witness in the first few minutes of a film and it all makes sense later in the film. The man then "jumps" into the path of the passing train. The next shot he is in a bus being driven out to the middle of nowhere where a man greets him at an abandoned gas station and takes him to "the city" to be introduced to his new life. He is given an apartment, a job and everyone is seemingly very nice and pleasant. The creepy-factor from everyone is really tipping the meter through the whole film. As he goes about his mundane, boring job and home life of eating tasteless food and drinking alcohol that never makes a person drunk he encounters a man in the bathroom of a local bar who starts going on about how he can never get drunk and how he can't taste anything before Andreas sees him leave the bar and follows him to a building where a basement light comes on and music plays. He can't get this man out of his head, as he too has noticed that booze doesn't make you drunk, food has no taste, nothing has a smell and conversations are quite bland, but he never sees the man again.

During this time he meets a woman at a work dinner, begins to date her, they have boring, feeling-less sex several times while he moves in with her and begins renovations at their new home. He's in love, or so he seems until he meets another woman that he works with and tests out whether his current relationship will fall apart when he starts hanging around a new woman that he eventually falls in love with. At this point the plot treads into 'spoiler' territory so I'll stop writing down the whole story, but I will say that the opening shots in the subway train tunnel come in to being soon enough.

The movie has a wonderful, weird, creepy atmosphere that is played out very well with very dark rooms and muted colors in most places but the subway tunnel and you genuinely get the feeling of a feeling-less boring society that seems to just be peachy and perfect on the surface; a place where everyone just goes along with what they are given and learns to like it, but also a place that some people find weird and not satisfying. Andreas is one of those people.

I wish that I could say that I liked, or disliked, this movie one way or another, but I just don't know. I liked that acting, I liked the music, I liked the pace and atmosphere. What I didn't like was the ultimate ending and the fact that if you are going to go weird Kafka-esque on the audience, you go balls to the walls crazy-weird. Go David Lynch Mulholland Drive/Lost Highway-I've seen this movie 12 billion times and don't know what's going on-crazy. This movie dipped its toe in surreal weirdness and then realized it was a tad too chilly and yanked it right out, but not before throwing the creepy atmosphere towel into the deep end, and that, along with the acting, may be its one saving grace.

Overall, I definitely think it's worth a watch because of the creepiness it does have and because of the acting and well-shot scenes and I'd be interested to hear some other feedback as to how it was received in your eyes and brains.

I will throw out a warning that if you watch on Netflix streaming, the aspect ratio is not correct. It is far too letterboxed and the whole movie seems weirdly stretched. It isn't just part of the film, it really is messed up on Netflix.


  1. I love Scandinavian Film Fest!!

  2. There shall be more Scandinavian Film Fest soon! I have at least one more film I've watched to review and it was a good one!