Evidently, Norwegians can take a joke, as this deadpan satire of the nation’s humorless affect grossed big in its homeland after bowing last year in Cannes. Think of it as a screwball Invasion—wittier at least than the Nicole Kidman version (which, alas, isn’t saying much). Scruffy thirtysomething Andreas (Trond Fausa Aurv) stands on a train platform watching a body-snatched man and woman engaged in dispassionate face-sucking, leaps onto the tracks in an apparent effort to stop the pain, then awakens to a sterile, emotionless afterlife that could easily pass for stereotypical Oslo. Here, our hero’s accounting-firm colleagues spend lunch hours gazing longingly at an Ikea catalog and discussing the subtle nuances of functional minimalism. Andreas starts seeing an interior designer (what else?), trades her for a marginally less insipid woman, and continues to endure brain-dead conversation, boring sex, and flavorless food: Welcome to Scandinavia. Though the image of a suicide victim impaled on a fence and other periodic snippets of gore eventually steer the quirks into darker territory, director Jens Lien (Jonny Vang) mostly favors the clean and bland, succumbing to much of the same pod-person impassivity that the movie purports to critique.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 14, 2007