Opening 2 Aug 2007
Imagine Clerks filmed in Oslo by Ingmar Bergman. The subject matter is the same: 20-year-old men fearfully searching for a place in life and adulthood, but here the ambience is Nordic, cold, minimal and quiet. Erik and Phllip hang out with their friends Lars, Henning, Morten and Geir. Erik and Phillip are budding writers. While Erik’s book is rejected by the publishing company, Phillip becomes an extraordinarily successful author and promptly suffers a nervous breakdown from stress. From then on, nothing really unusual happens, which is probably the strength of the film: everything is so normal. Phillip gives up writing and lives only for his girlfriend Kari. Erik’s girlfriend feels neglected and leaves him. The other characters also go through periods of disappointment, success, and wrong decisions.
In this first film by Norwegian director Joachim Trier, it’s often hard to discriminate reality and dreams, beginning and end. The photography (excellent and beautiful like a Scandinavian painting), the music (also wonderful), and the dialogue (sometimes through voice over) are sparse. Just as the film moves forward, there are flashbacks. In the end, the message (which I endorse) is that life between the ages of 20 and 30 is the hardest. It is not the enviable decade one might expect considering the beauty, good health, and opportunities available to young adults. This is what I would call a typical festival film, and indeed it has won prizes in ten festivals from Norway to Toronto to Sundance to Istanbul over the last year. (Becky Tan)