Review: ‘Chlorox, Ammonia And Coffee!’

Norwegian crisscrosser "Chlorox, Ammonia and Coffee!" is a hectic concoction that finds writer-director Mona J. Hoel pulling strings too strenuously to arrive at the kind of virtuoso lives-in-simultaneous-crisis ensembler defined by "Short Cuts," "Magnolia," etc. Outside fest travel, broadcast sales seem likeliest exposure route.

Norwegian crisscrosser “Chlorox, Ammonia and Coffee!” is a hectic concoction that finds writer-director Mona J. Hoel (of 2000 Dogme flick “Cabin Fever”) pulling strings too strenuously to arrive at the kind of virtuoso lives-in-simultaneous-crisis ensembler defined by “Short Cuts,” “Magnolia,” etc. Myriad narrative strands, outre incidents and decent mounting make this a diverting seriocomedy, albeit an inorganic one whose idiosyncrasies seem awfully self-conscious. Outside fest travel, broadcast sales seem likeliest exposure route.

In the town of Lillestrom, various strangers are headed toward collision. There’s heavily pregnant Maria (Benedikte Lindbeck), who discovers neglectful husband Erik (Denis Storhoi) is hiding their near-bankruptcy — as well as his mistress and cocaine habit. Divorced hospital nurse Iris (Kjersti Holmen) is lonely, exhausted, and stressed to the max by a rebellious teenage daughter who sells the upstairs klepto/pensioner’s prescription drugs to her classmates. Nearly everyone is starved for affection, reads “Women Who Love Too Much,” and has a backyard trampoline. Natch, all paths cross and result in successful new pair-offs by the end. Good perfs and some bright ideas can’t quite offset the overall sense of authorial contrivance, though pic still holds attention.

Chlorox, Ammonia And Coffee!

Norway

Production

An SF Norge presentation of a Freedom From Fear production. Produced by Malte Forsell. Executive producer, Karin Strandberg. Directed, screenplay by Mona J. Hoel.

Crew

Camera (color), Hoyte van Hoytema; editor, Helena Berlin; music, Ulver, Mari Boine, Marilyn Mazur; production designer, Line Try. Reviewed at Cinequest, San Jose, March 7, 2005. Running time: 106 MIN.

With

Fares Fares, Benedikte Lindbeck, Denis Storhoi, Kjersti Holmen, Svein Scharffenberg, Nils Vogt, Nicole Madeleine Aurdal, Even Stormoen, Eva Bergh, Per Lillo Stenberg, Abdul-Hakim Aouragh, Janne Eikeland, Johannes Lindbeck, Terje Stromdahl, Jannik Bonnevie.
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