Release Date: August 24th, 2007 (Cinema Village) by Film Movement.
The Cast: Trond Fausa Aurvaag, Petronella Barker, Per Schaaning, Birgitte Larsen, Johannes Joner.
Directed by Jens Lien.
In Norwegian with subtitles.
BASIC PREMISE: Andreas (Auraag) gets stuck in a strange, mundane city where food has no taste and people lack emotion. Based on the radio play by Per Schreiner.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Equally parts Pleasantville and The Truman Show (without the show), The Bothersome Man manages to be intriguing, suspenseful and very bizarre. Andreas arrives at a town by bus without recalling how he actually got there. Immediately, he gets his a job as an accountant in a company where everyone greets him with a smile—a cold smile, though. He even gets his own apartment and asks Anne-Britt (Barker) out after meeting her at a dinner with friends. She quickly agrees without hesitation and also easily agrees to have sex and move in with him soon after. It turns out that the food there has no taste nor can anyone get drunk from alcohol. Moreover, everyone seems emotionless and talks about bland topics such as colors and what kind of furniture to purchase. That doesn’t sound like much fun. Just like Truman Burbank in The Truman Show, Andreas gradually realizes that something’s seriously wrong with place he’s at, especially when he accidentally cuts his finger off and it somehow reappears. The plot becomes even more suspenseful when he discovers a strange hole in the wall of a man’s room and tries to dig through it in hopes of escaping. Fortunately, screenwriter Per Schreiner wisely allows the plot to remain mysterious because the audience knows just as much as Andreas does about who or what is controlling this city—or why, for that matter. He also wisely includes some well-needed droll humor. Admitedly, it would have been more imaginative to lengthen the third act a bit so that at least some of the prior implausible scenes would be explained. At the same time, it’s a compliment to the audience’s intelligence that there’s no big speech by a narrator or a character who talks down to the audience and explains everything for them at the end like in Vanilla Sky. Director Jens Lien masterfully combines set design, color design, cinematography and musical score which add to the increasingly eerie atmosphere and keeps you fully intrigued as well as perplexed from start to finish.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: The overarching message is that having emotion and individuality should always be integral and even defining parts of what it means to be a human. In the strange, nameless city where Andreas ends up, he has most of the variables which deceptively lead toward what others think is true happiness: a good job, a beautiful girlfriend, a comfortable apartment and friends who agree to everything without arguments. Yet, there’s something wrong with that equation: everyone lacks emotion and critical thinking just so that they can conform to material happiness, but never acheiving true happiness. If everyone were like this, the world be boring and mundane, which to some people, like Andreas, is the equivalent of mental hell.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 0
IN A NUTSHELL: Offbeat, profound and psychologically horrifying. A thoroughly intriguing, perplexing and suspenseful modern satire.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater
The "B" Menu