JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Gone With the Woman (Director: Petter Naess) - January 9, 2008

Gone With the Woman

Tatt av kvinnen

2.5 2.5
92 min.

Reviewed at the 2008 Palm Springs International Film Festival
Dive comedy flounders in the shallow end

There’s so much to admire in the Norwegian contender for Oscar’s foreign-language runoff: beautiful Norse scenery deftly captured by Marius Johansen-Hansen; clever special effects (digital team headed by Fredrik Höglin; especially lovable is the airborne Valentine heart—complete with an arrow of consummation—can’t fail to bring a smile); a colourful score (original music by Aslak Hartberg) ranging from a perfectly balanced Christmas chorus to steel guitar and banjo tracks that are sure to be the envy of stateside Country & Western fans; some fine acting (Trond Fausa Aurvåg’s “Him” is dolefully wimpish and hilariously macho as required—his swim/diving sequences are first rate; Marian Saastad Ottesen as the bossy, spontaneous and faithless Marianne makes the most of an uneven character) and a Greek chorus of advisors-for-the-lovelorn who sport nothing but towels, jowls and saggy flesh in the après swim sauna.

Unfortunately, the script (Petter Næss and Johan Bogaeus drew the screenplay from Erlend Loe’s novel) has less intuition than Him is accused of lacking, wandering from scene to scene with little undercurrent of purposeful, if discreet, direction. The outrageous moments work best (Marianne’s explosive dad is a hoot) but this production never finds the necessary balance of fine madness/plausible actions. The retired Swedish colonel (Sten Ljunggren) gets the line-du-jour: “Once you understand life, you can’t use it anymore.” Modified to fit Naess’ result, it might well read “Once you don’t understand credibility—especially in humour—you can’t amuse anymore.” JWR

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