Christer (27) is on his way to work when a seagull shits on his shirt. Down in the Laundromat in the basement he suddenly remembers that all his rent money is in his shirt pocket. In an attempt to save the money, he takes out the main fuse of the building to stop the washing machine. When the superintendent puts the fuse back in, an old man in an apartment above clumsily changes fuses in his own fuse-cabinet. The man dies immediately. His daughter, Leni (40) has lived completely isolated with her father. Now she is alone for the first time of her life. When fresh first-time mother Heidi (30) is down to get her laundry, she notices that all the machines have stopped. She is in a hurry and has to grab the clothes all wet. Without knowing it, Christer has started the inevitable. Written by
As far as feature debuts go, Eva Sørhaug's is notable for its narrative and stylistic ambitions: merging the dry wit of Aki Kaurismäki with the multi-character storytelling of Paul Thomas Anderson, both taken out of their original contexts and placed in the gray everyday life of Oslo, capital city of Norway.
Unlike Magnolia or Short Cuts, Cold Lunch limits its focus on three characters: Leni (Ane Dahl Torp), an introverted girl who is faced with the grim reality of unemployment and financial needs when her father suddenly dies; Christer (Aksel Henne), a troubled teenager who struggles to pay his rent and has father issues; and Heidi (Pia Tjelta), a family mother who finds herself between her newborn baby and her abusive husband Odd (Kyrre Haugen Sydness), who either offends, beats or ignores her all the time.
The atmosphere is very Scandinavian, with a particular nod to the minimalistic humor present in Kaurismäki's work. On her own part, Sørhaug adds a winning chromatic contrast, emphasizing how the characters lead gray existences while living in white or red apartments. The slow pace, very understated acting and off-beat humor enable her to paint a conventional but entertaining portrait of today's society.
The real problem, ironically, comes when she tries to connect the dots (imagine Magnolia's frog rain with seagulls instead of frogs), as the film all of a sudden shifts to another genre and leads to one of the three plot strands ending in a rather disappointing way. But once the surrealistic digression is out of the way, Cold Lunch gets back on track and ends just like it started: quirky, oddly funny and occasionally moving.
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