Weirdly captivating and overwhelming transcendent dark comedy that installs hope that proceedings will balance out into normalness, only to get further into awkwardness as the film goes on. Fans of the quirky and obscure won’t mind a bit.
Writer, director Bent Hamer, adapts Norwegian novel Sluk, changing location to small town America, the bleak mid-west in a state of depressing lower economic status affecting all far and wide.
Frank (Pal Sverre Hagen) has a new job delivering messages to residents, usually bad news only, so this begins a series of uncomfortable moments for both characters and viewers. Frank becomes known as, The Middle Man, informing others of deaths and accidents..
This town setting of Karmack, is no Fargo (1996) but certainly wants to be, lighter of actual laughs, I’m still quivering throughout in anticipation of what Frank may do next. His demeanour changes as does the tone of the film raising questions who would even continue in this unforgiving job.
Friend and colleague Steve (Rossif Sutherland) helps out occasionally when Frank is in dire need or just needs a drinking buddy. Constant hazards seem to occur in their town on a regular basis coming across like a curse, but this is never fully explained. It is just a plot device to introduce a series of unconventional townsfolk.
Cinematography catches the eye; detailed set design is also a cut above with delicate colours combining with various props in the background of rooms or streets. Acting is of a variable calibre; effort is evident which is all one can ask for!
Highlight of the wayward ensemble is Swedish thespian Tuva Novotny, as Blenda.
Themes are sure to resonate at times, there’s no denying underlying sadness amongst the comedic aspects, a combination that doesn’t always quite deliver the knockout punch. Well worth watching, have fun trying to follow along.
Comedy, Drama | USA, 2021 | 15 | Cinema | 10th March 2023 (UK) | Sovereign Film Distribution | Dir.Bent Hamer | Pål Sverre Hagen, Don McKellar, Paul Gross, Trond Fausa, Aksel Hennie
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