Following a prologue set in war-torn former Yugoslavia, the film follows several different Christmas celebrations in the small Norwegian town of Skogli. Paul is a thirty-three-year-old laborer who marches into his doctor's office demanding a prescription, then proceeds to lay bare all his woes. The doctor is beleaguered by his own marital and financial difficulties (he's left his upset wife to work emergency calls on Christmas Eve). There's also an elderly man preparing an esoteric ritual, a vagrant who runs into an old flame, a middle-aged couple in the throes of passion, a boy hopelessly in love with his Muslim neighbor and a young émigré couple whose car breaks down as the woman goes into labor. Written by
I saw it at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival and I was enjoying myself so much I was surprised when it ended in the way time flies when you're having fun. The movie is often very funny, despite the fact that there are lots of serious and painful stuff going on.
It's a Norwegian film based upon a series of short stories. I'm no expert on film-making, but this director must really know his business, because I was completely unaware that I was watching separate stories. It felt very much like one single story even though it was jumping between different ones.
The movie has a very strong belief in the basic decency of people. This doesn't mean that there aren't people doing some bad things. There is no great evil going on here, but these are real people making mistakes and acting badly and hurting each other. But decency predominates. At the same time, there isn't any "sappy-phoney-sentimentality" present. All too often in Hollywood films when people are doing good things it feels rather contrived and is just in there to make the film commercial. In this movie, you do believe that the people in the film would actually do these good things. It's a Christmas movie, but it's 100% believable.
The movie is also educational. You'll learn why you don't buy your wife and your mistress the same Christmas present!
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