In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_6svpck54r9k0mz9xcfzswrxcin

Winter Sleep

The running time of his new picture Winter Sleep, three hours and change, suggests weight, but at it happens, this movie struck me as both…

Thumb_oax1ohn3ltgrf3vlh5ff28w0yjn

Mr. Turner

Filmmaker Mike Leigh's biography of the landscape painter J.M.W. Turner is what critics call "austere"—which means it's slow and grim and deliberately hard to love—yet…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

The Almost Man

The Almost Man Movie Review
  |  

Maybe it’s me. The older I get, the more I grapple with my own personal deficits of maturity and resourcefulness, the less patience I have for fictional stories (non-fictional stories too, come to think of it) of fellow white males who don’t want to grow up. Even if they’re Norwegian.

Henrik Rafaelson’s Henrik, the hero and I suppose title character of this feature written and directed by Martin Lund, is experiencing a not-quite mid-life crisis on account of his girlfriend’s pregnancy, and a new job. As lifestyle gurus both here and across the International Date line will tell you, those are two really major-league stress-precipitating life changes, and I suppose Lund could have gotten himself a longer movie (this one clocks in at an admittedly tidy 75 minutes) had he thrown a geographic move into the mix. In any event, after a couple of scenes establishing the free-and-fun-filled relationship Henrik enjoys with future mother-of-his-child Tone (Janne Heltberg Haarseth), including a goofy improvised fake fight in a supermarket, the better to freak out the uptight folks who normally populate the aisles, Henrik’s behavior gets erratic in less ingratiating ways.

The refusal of adulthood’s onus is most vehemently expressed in the physical execution of a metaphor: a scene in which Henrik urinates into a children’s picture book based on Disney’s version of “Peter Pan.” There’s actually a fair amount of bodily-function acting out here, none of it invoking Freud so much as playing like a lower-key iteration of an American indie gross-out comedy. Indeed, it didn’t take ten minutes of the movie before I imagined one could create an American remake with Mark Duplass in the role of Henrik. Since I find Rafaelson a more congenial screen presence than Duplass, the advantage is with the Norwegians, but only slightly. As it happens, while the acting and the cinematography are both solid, the movie is both weirdly indulgent (Henrik’s masturbatory compulsiveness, whatever the motivations for it, simply is not that interesting) and peculiarly aimless, especially given its length. 

My problem, finally, and this is something I rarely actually complain about, was that I didn’t care. Watching Henrik, my weather was along the lines of “I’ve got my own problems, European Person, and you’re not even distracting me from them. Get your whatever-it-is together.” And as I remained unmoved, I started longing for a relationship comedy/drama with some real bite and observation to it, and fondly remembering the 2009 German film "Everyone Else," directed by Maren Ade. Who’s a woman, as it happens. Maybe I’m just sick of bros.


Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

The Ten Best Films of 2014

The ten best films of 2014, as chosen by the film critics of RogerEbert.com.

10 Underrated Female Performances of 2014

Ten underrated female performances from 2014 worthy of Oscar consideration.

More on That Later: The Truth About “Serial”

Some thoughts on the hit podcast "Serial".

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus