Film

1001 Grams Is a Strong Romantic Drama About Science

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Deeply ambitious, Bent Hamer’s 1001 Grams deserves recognition for pure nerve. Earning its place in the Gutsy Premises Hall of Fame, it’s a straight-faced drama about a seminar on the kilogram held in Paris by the Bureau of International Weights and Measures. The seminar takes “pure kilograms” that have been constructed by various nations’ measurement calibration organizations and uses them to construct an international standard for how much a kilo actually weighs.

Representing Norway is Marie (Ane Dahl Torp), a scientist going instead of her father, Ernst (Stein Winge), a revered figure in the community. Ernst is ailing, and during the conference Marie finds her grief over her father’s impending death inspiring her to reflect on her own loneliness. It isn’t long before a potential love interest emerges: fellow conference-goer Pi (Laurent Stocker), all Gallic charm against Marie’s Scandinavian coldness. Hamer’s probing of this rarely seen community is admirable, but the results are alternately touching and sentimental.

As Marie reflects upon her own loneliness, 1001 Grams quickly takes shape as a familiar — though not ineffective — tale about a closed-off thinker forced to engage more thoroughly with life. Some of the observations within, linking the idea of measurement to broader existential concerns — “What is the weight of the soul?” Ernst asks — veer toward pop-philosophy, and it becomes apparent the central topic could have been more sophisticatedly explored.

Nevertheless, this portrait of an introverted soul brought out of her shell is not without its charms.