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Nicolai Cleve Broch,
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Nicolai Cleve Broch,
Anders Baasmo Christiansen
This is a love drama with comedy from a surfing environment in Stavanger. Tord is married to Karen, Even has always loved Karen, but she is expecting a child with Tord. Tord has everything Even don't have; he is good-looking, surfs like a god, has a good job and a career. Short time after the wedding Tord goes on an official trip to Australia with his surfboard under his arm. Written by
A "surf city" in Norway is miles away from Jan and Dean country where the bikinis roam under a hot, Waikiki sun, but people also surf in the cold Atlantic of this Scandinavian hamlet, by which three Norwegian inhabitants rewrite the line about "two girls for every boy" under an electric sky. No summer here in these parts, especially for the jilted; it's been an endless winter for Even(Vegar Hoel), ever since his best friend Tord(Christen Skolmen) stole Karen(Silje Salomonsen), the love of his life, away from him. That's why the best man is late. He can't get to the church on time and preside over their wedding vows, not without a little pinball and firewater to lubricate his shattered heart, should jealousy rear its ugly head at the most inopportune time. It does. At the Hawaiian-themed reception, it's readily apparent that Even over-lubricated himself, as he rehashes his stormy history with the bride and groom, in a speech that toasts their love to a crisp.
All is forgiven, though, when Tord entrusts his wife to Even while he goes away on business in Singapore. After a near-fatal car crash, the land-lover reinvents himself as a surfin' Cassanova, in an attempt to win back the heart and mind of his former lover. With Skip(Kim Bodnia), a former surf champ, as his life coach, all the trappings of a "sports film" is in place, as Even has his eye on an upcoming surf meet. Since surfing lends itself to the same pedagogical quasi-spirituality as karate, Skip does his best Mr. Miyagi(Pat Morita from John Avildsen's "The Karate Kid") imitation and puts his student through a battery of unconventional exercises that precludes Even(like Daniel-san) from actually testing the waters. "Paint fence...up, down, up, down" finds expression in Evan's bed on the ocean floor as he follows the waves' kinetic energy. Winning the surf meet is Even's goal, but "Monsterdorstag" realizes that a loving cup won't solve his adult problems as it would in a Hollywood film. Karen isn't going to file for divorce should Even defeat her husband. That's why Even's splashing around seems pathetic. Friends like Beckstrom(Andreas Cappelan)helped cultivate this arrested development, so in essence, Even wiped out on drinking binges and tomfoolery with his partner-in-crime, before he catches his first wave. "Monsterdorstag" demonstrates how the underdog sports movie discomfits the reality of adulthood by killing the climactic showdown between Even and Tord due to a lack of ridable waves. To declare a winner, this contest can't be judged by objective men with salt in their hair. The only score that matters is the emotional number which Karen arrives at.
"Monsterdorstag" acquires its title from Sara(Iben Hjele), a student working at the weather bureau, whom Even and Beckstrom invite back to Skip's home, so she can test her theory about "monster" waves. Late in the film, during an electrical storm, Sara transforms the ocean into a metaphor when she describes the waters' conditions as being a result of "three low pressure constellations in a nice triangle." The churning water incited by the inclement weather coincides with Karen going into labor at the hospital. Although Even is at Karen's bedside, his desired station, he drives to the beach to fetch Tord, because the little lady made her choice, and she chose her husband, who looks toward the sea with more longing than at his wife.
Alone in the dark, Even braves the violent sea, knowing that the fix is in: You don't beat Mother Nature. Rather than surf to win, Even surfs as an act of self-abnegation, because he'd rather be a memory than a reminder in Karen's life. "Monsterdorstag" is a beautifully realized film about how life isn't like the movies. If love was only so simple as catching a wave, and hoisting a trophy in the air, with the girl you love wrapped around your arm.
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