Top positive review
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Le til du skrike! (Laugh till you scream!)
on November 28, 2004
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooh my, this film had me in knots!
Having lived in Norway at one time in my life, I had a strong desire to see this when it turned up at last year's Cork (Ireland) International Film Festival. I try not to miss Scandinavian films when they're on, anyway, but the blurb sounded good, and so I went.
Scandinavian humour is known for being quite black, actually, and is sometimes hard to swallow. There are those who find British humour incomprehensible; they would find Scandinavian humour insurmountable. That is, until they see this film... (You know things will be good when you're laughing hysterically within the first five or ten minutes.)
The story begins with a group of Swedish researchers, who are sent to the cold and frozen wilderness of Norway to observe the daily habits of middle-aged Norwegian bachelors. The premise for this visit is that the researchers are attempting to redesign kitchens for the usage of such characters; the observations will facilitate a more user-friendly remodelling. It isn't too long after the introduction of the 'suits' that the viewer will be rolling on the floor in laughter. This comes about firstly by the inclusion of a bit of rather humorous history: once upon a not-so-long ago, the Swedes drove on the left, and the Norwegians (as they always had done) drove on the right. Consequently, the team of Swedish researchers, fresh from their border crossing into Norway, must suddenly avoid a near head-on collision, which leaves them discombobulated. Viewers familiar with the way the Swedish and the Norwegians are constantly jibing one another will immediately recognise the joke played on a certain group of meatball-lovers!
It only gets better. Folke, one of the observers who is destined to spend the next several months in a ridiculously high observation chair, is instructed to observe Isak, a grumpy old man and not-so-willing participant. A battle of the wills... and WITS... soon ensues. With very little dialogue, the dynamic is set by the actions of each character. Will Folke be forced to end the observation? Or will Isak submit? (And how, incidentally, are the others getting on with their studies?)
You won't believe the outcome.
Incidentally, the audience at the CIFF screening went mad for it! They were breathless with laughter, and often could hardly see through their tears of mirth.