F--k Up (Et Slags liv): Film Review
Seattle International Film Festival
Jon Oigarden, Tuva Novotny, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Atle Antonsen, Lennart Jahkel, Rebecka Hemse, Iben Hjejle
Four Norwegian friends try to clean up a botched smuggling scheme in Oystein Karlsen's crime comedy.
A quartet of lifelong friends stick by each other through a very trying night in F--k Up, a Norwegian comedy whose title hints at the number of bad decisions each buddy tolerates on the others' behalf. Oystein Karlsen's crime film sports the tense-sweat-in-the-snow vibe festivalgoers have embraced in recent Scandinavian imports, but a sense of place only carries it so far; arthouse distributors may find little to tempt them here.
"Halden is a small town," we hear numerous times, as the friends try to pretend they're barely acquainted with each other when questioned by police and employers looking at a string of accidents and crimes that spring from one scheme gone wrong: Glenn (Atle Antonsen), having borrowed large sums from each of his friends separately, bought a cache of drugs he hoped to resell a profit. Instead he got into a wreck, leaving the drugs in his now-impounded car's trunk; while his buddies try to clean up that and other evidence of Glenn's crimes, a local gangster stalks them in the belief they're trying to steal his dope.
Jack (Jon Oigarden), the point man in this clean-up campaign, is a dubious choice for the job -- a philanderer on the verge of getting kicked out of his home, he's a speed-freak who can't even take his ambulance-driver qualifying test without being high. That day-long test brings him to the scene of a couple of incidents he and his friends helped cause: One of the film's most successful riffs subjects one big, bald thug to repeated abuse that continues even after EMTs begin treating him.
Jack takes a good deal of abuse himself, and the film, which begins with a flash-forward to a grave site, presents itself as the account of how the choices he made led to his downfall. Karlsen's script has a few twists in store but, despite solid performances, his characters never grab viewers' sympathies enough to make us worry much about which one (or more) of them will end up in that casket.
Cast: Jon Oigarden, Tuva Novotny, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Atle Antonsen, Lennart Jahkel, Rebecka Hemse, Iben Hjejle
Director-Screenwriter: Oystein Karlsen
Producers: Hillevi Raberg, Anders Tangen
Executive producers: Tomas Eskilsson, Guttorm Petterson
Director of photography: Pal Bugge Haagenrud
Production designer: Lotta Bergman
Music: Knut Avenstroup
Costume designer: Karen Fabritius Gram
Editor: Andreas Nilsson
No rating, 99 minutes