The Milwaukee Film Festival's (http://mkefilm.org) Fiction Festival Favorites program includes an array of international films spanning the bounds of genre. Saturday, Oct. 5, Fiction Festival Favorite "The Almost Man" had its final screening at the Oriental Theatre at 7 p.m. This Norwegian film, directed by Martin Lund, plays with the line between comedy and drama as 35-year-old Henrik (Henrik Rafaelsen) struggles with adulthood soon after his girlfriend Tone (Janne Heltberg Haarseth) becomes pregnant.
The line between comedy and drama in "The Almost Man" is one that starts somewhat blurred and becomes clearer and clearer as the plot progresses. On the one hand, Henrik and and Tone are clearly in love and have great chemistry as the happy, playful couple. They are experiencing new beginnings as they move to a new home, Henrik starts a new job, and the couple prepares to be parents. The two have fun and joke around together, but the line is drawn when pregnancy starts to affect Tone and Henrik gets stuck in a kind of Peter Pan complex. He carries on with a kind of frat boy mentality, which put him in unusual, often drunken, situations that could easily be shown as something out of "The Hangover." But the use of editing and sound in particular contribute to the film turning into drama, as it should be in this case.
I'm not actually weird!
Part of the film that turns crude comedy into drama is the realistic depiction of very awkward, sometimes disgusting situations. Lund doesn't sugar-coat scenes, and includes detailed depictions of drunken scenes that add to the seriousness of Henrik's issues. While this is important to the tone of the film, it should also be noted that it's also part of what makes this a film for adults. One scene in particular, in which Henrik urinates in a someone's car, is shown in an unforgiving way that creates a sense of shock and discomfort which is appropriate for the purposes of the film, with the right audience watching.
Lund takes "The Almost Man" a step further in creating an increasingly despicable character and still making him a sympathetic protagonist. This is, by no means, a simple feat, but he manages to keep the audience tuned into Henrik's insecurities and motives behind his emotionally-stinted, maturity-disabled behavior. The audience sees Henrik make an effort to be what others want him to be, but fail miserably and make an idiot of himself in the process. His constant problem of laughing off issues instead of addressing them becomes a bigger issue in his relationship, and his constant struggle to mature while everyone else seems to speed by him with ease is what keeps the audience connected to him after some inexplicable behavior.
I like you better when you talk than when you point.