Charming, witty and playful, “Gone With the Woman” is the best film so far by “Elling” helmer Petter Naess. Fast-paced comedy about a young man’s encounter with an unusual woman has all the makings of an international niche hit, and pic’s exposure in Toronto, following its preem at the Haugesund fest, should aid sales.
Main character (Trond Fausa Aurvag), who remains nameless, is an insecure young man living in an Oslo apartment. His life is suddenly invaded by the beautiful Marianne (Marian Saastad Ottesen), who just shows up one day and proceeds to visit more and more often. He rarely gets a word in during her lengthy monologues, and she even starts bringing her own furniture to the flat.
The guy is unsure whether he really wants a girlfriend or nor. He goes to the local swimming hall, where he befriends world-weary Glenn (Peter Stormare, funny), who tries to give him advice on what to do and how to treat girls. One of Glenn’s pieces of advice is to sleep with Marianne, an act that only makes her cling even closer.
Marianne decides the two will take a long train trip through Europe, but her habit of following her own whims soon leads to their separation. She stays in the countryside while he decides to spend time in Paris, where he meets a beautiful young French girl (Louise Monot).
Pic asks questions about the interplay between men and women, and about the importance of listening and letting others speak. But mostly, it’s just a very humorous comedy that allows Naess to play with the form in a surreal way that sometimes recalls “Amelie.” Helmer uses sound, music, color and visuals in ways that also advance the story — as when the two lovers embrace in front of a window, a firecracker explodes in the form of a big, red heart, and minutes later, when they start arguing, the heart falls apart and crashes on the sidewalk under the window.
Aurvag (“The Bothersome Man”) has a continually surprised look on his face that suits the part fine, and Ottesen convinces as a woman who’s set her sights on a particular man.