The Bothersome Man

Director: Jens Lien

Literature lovers intrigued by the sense of displacement and existential angst found by getting lost in the dark, satirical worlds discovered in Kafka’s The Trial, Huxley’s Brave New World, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, and Orwell’s 1984 will want to check out this odd Scandinavian piece of cinematic dystopia from Norwegian director Jens Lien. Moments into the weird, hypnotic piece we find ourselves introduced to Andreas, a forty year old man with no extraordinary motivations or characteristics as he arrives by bus in the middle of the desert where a strange man tentatively hangs up a homemade Welcome banner before greeting him briskly, taking down the banner and bringing him to his new surroundings—an antiseptic, unnamed city. Given a job as an accountant, Andreas quickly adapts to his surroundings, which are as muted, gray and clean as the pages of the popular Ikea catalogues coveted by his coworkers. Days are filled with conversation about modular, casual furniture and Andreas befriends his new colleagues, falling quickly into a tedious relationship with a woman that consists mostly of routine sex, dinner parties and endless home redecoration and discussion of paint colors, which are possibly a jest of the polite Scandinavian culture as noted in Leslie Felperin’s review of the film for Variety. Soon Andreas begins to realize that beneath the cool exterior of the plastic smiles of citizens who fail to register any emotion other than extreme even-temperedness, there are other oddities such as the absence of children from the community, plentiful alcohol that never gets the drinker drunk, and days filled without meaning, passion or purpose-- satirically and sardonically indicative of the contemporary worldwide yuppie who lives to work and spends their free moments concerned with material matters. The Bothersome Man is a puzzling film to be sure and one without enough closure or certainty so it will frustrate viewers not inclined to look for a philosophical meaning in their cinema but it’s worth a look for a decidedly different view of Norway and Lien’s sophomore film not only earned numerous awards including a few Amanda accolades (Norway’s Oscars) but also a world premiere screening during Critic’s Week at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. It's available exclusively through Film Movement.