Autumn 2004 Main series
Sunday, December 5, 2004 at 4:00pm
Sunday, December 5, 2004 at 7:00pm
Monday, December 6, 2004 at 7:00pm
Rated NR ·
The official Norwegian entry for the 2004 Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award, Bent Hamer’s Kitchen Stories is a delightfully quirky comedy that premiered at the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival. The premise is a delicious one – a Swedish Research Institute study has concluded that, through the course of their daily kitchen activities, the average housewife walks the distance from Sweden to the Congo each year due to basic inefficiency. To balance the report, the Institute decides to launch a parallel study to assess the kitchen efficiency levels of single Swedish men.
Dispatched to the rural town of Landstad, unassuming Institute observer Folke (Tomas Norstrom) joins a scientific team to study a group of volunteer bachelors in an effort to “calibrate domestic inefficiency.” He is assigned to watch cantankerous farmer Isak (Joachim Calmeyer) who has had second thoughts about participating in the project. To preserve the scientific integrity of the study, Folke is forbidden from speaking or engaging with his subject. By night, he sleeps outside Isak’s farmhouse in a bizarre, green, egg-shaped caravan. By day, from a high observational chair in the corner of Isak’s kitchen, Folke watches and charts the daily boiling of one egg and Isak’s steadfast devotion to turning off the light.
When Folke cannot resist the temptation to season his sandwich with Isak’s precisely placed saltshaker, he breaks the rules and hastily grabs the object, returning it to the wrong spot. Imbued with a dry and gentle humour perfected by the Nordic sensibility, the saltshaker assumes a significance of Hitchcockian proportions, becoming the unlikely catalyst in the men’s relationship. Ultimately, Folke is faced with an absurd dilemma: pursue a burgeoning friendship with his subject, or salvage the integrity of the sociological experiment. Witty and heartwarming, Kitchen Stories confirms all our best notions about the undeniable draw of human friendships. And like all great comics, Bent Hamer’s has a sense of humour that is as forlorn and touching as it is hilarious.