Thursday, January 01, 2015

The Bothersome Man (2006)

Note: This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

One of the advantages of having access to Netflix’s streaming service is that I get to watch movies that I wouldn’t otherwise know about.  Sometimes, I find a movie I love.   Other times, I find a movie that I can only warn people to avoid.  I’m sort of on the fence about The Bothersome Man.  I had wanted to watch it before Netflix stopped streaming it, but I’m not sure why I wanted to watch it in the first place.  I think it was just one of those movies that popped up in my recommendations.

It starts out with a man named Andreas committing suicide by jumping in front of a train.  The very next scene is the same man, now with a beard, getting off of a bus.  He’s greeted by another man, who serves as a welcoming committee.  There’s no explanation as to how Andreas got there.  The man takes Andreas to his new apartment and informs him that Andreas will start a new job as an accountant tomorrow morning.  Inside the apartment is all Andreas will need, including several suits.

Andreas is now a resident of a city where everything is the same.  Everyone wears similar clothes.  All the buildings look perfectly bland.  All of the people are adults.  There are no children.  There are no elderly.  Everything is kept clean and everyone seems happy.  Andreas goes about his new life as best he can.

He soon meets a woman who seems to serve as his wife, although there’s no formal ceremony or announcement.  He just moves in with her and they start hosting dinners.  He also takes up with another woman, who seems to serve as his mistress.  At first, he’s happy with the situation, but begins to realize just how meaningless it all is.  His wife doesn’t seem like she enjoys being in a relationship and his mistress is seeing several other people.

The one bright spot seems to be a crack in the wall that a guy named Hugo has found.  From this hole comes music.  The two enjoy the music until Andreas gets the idea to make the crack bigger.  This is where everything comes undone.  No one seems to notice Andreas using a jackhammer, but people in Hugo’s building gather when they can smell stuff from the other side.  (We do get to see the other side briefly and it looks much more colorful than what Andreas and Hugo have to go through.)  It turns out that Andreas should have left well enough alone.  He finds his situation much worse off than when he started.

I’m not sure what to make of this movie.  Being that it’s Norwegian, I think I’m missing out on the cultural references.  From what I can tell from other reviews and from Wikipedia, the movie is supposed to be a commentary on socialism, which makes sense.  However, I get the impression that this is supposed to be the afterlife.  There is a supernatural element to the movie.  Andreas tries to follow the bus back, but only finds that the tracks mysteriously end.  He tries to commit suicide, only to eventually heal and be taken home to his wife.

There’s no talk of his life before being brought to the city.  No one asks Andreas where he grew up or about his parents.  For that matter, Andreas doesn’t really try to learn about the other people in the city.  This is not a movie that spells things out for you.  I’m not sure if this is good or bad.  I know that I’m probably missing the finer details  of the movie, but it does leave me thinking.  I get that having everything handed to you does make for a boring life.  We all want something better and we have a basic need to strive for that.

I’ll admit that the main draw for me was that I could get it streaming.  I like to use Netflix to get movies that I might not otherwise watch.  It kind of reminds me of The Prisoner in that you have a person (or several people) that end up in a strange place with no indication of what the place is or where they came from. This is also true of The Cube.  (Notice that The Cube also has a strange ending.)  This is one of those movies where a commentary track would have been helpful.  Then again, who wants to have everything handed to them? 


No comments :