Despondent over his lovelife, 36-year-old Swedish helmer Patrik Eriksson decides to chronicle his existential crisis.

Despondent over his lovelife, 36-year-old Swedish helmer Patrik Eriksson decides to chronicle his existential crisis, with the aid of co-workers, via cell-phone video camera in “An Extraordinary Study in Human Degradation.” The soporific result is dubiously dubbed a documentary, making one wonder what to call the homevideos posted on YouTube. Almost completely lacking in visual interest, unscripted effort includes much blather about relationships as well as footage of masturbation and copulation. Self-indulgent low-budgeter is exclusively fest fare and seems out of place in Gothenburg’s Nordic competition.

When Eriksson is dumped by an unseen g.f., it sends him into a tailspin. After droning on to colleagues Ruben and Erik about his problems, taking prescription antidepressants and posting a Match.com profile, he is filmed taking up with several new women. Modern technology figures prominently as Eriksson and potential conquests communicate mostly by texting and email. Pic’s title also pertains to the degenerating, jumpy quality of the visuals, which creates a challenging viewing experience, as do long scenes depicting a window or wall while conversations transpire off-camera. Mobile phone’s limited imaging ability could have been explored in a more unique or artistic way.

An Extraordinary Study in Human Degradation

Sweden

Production

A Platform production. (International sales: Platform, Gothenburg). Produced by Erik Hemmendorf, Ruben Ostlund. Directed by Patrik Eriksson.

Crew

Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Ruben Ostlund, Erik Hemmendorff, Patrik Eriksson, Vanja Sandell Billstrom, Marie Kjellson, Axel Danielsson, Hilda Ostlund, Alva Ostlund; editor, Eriksson. Reviewed at Gothenburg Film Festival (Nordic competition), Jan. 30, 2008. Running time: 83 MIN.

With

Patrik Eriksson, Ruben Ostlund, Erik Hemmendorff, Vanja Sandell Billstrom, Amelie Gyllenstierna, Marie Kjellson.
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