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The Almost Man

Conflicted feelings about impending fatherhood and adult responsibilities spark bouts of spectacularly inappropriate behavior in this slender but polished Norwegian dramedy.

Cast:
With: Henrik Rafaelsen, Janne Heltberg Haarseth, Anne Ma Usterud, Tov Sletta, Kim Eidhagen, Per Kjaerstad, Tore Sagen.

Conflicted feelings about impending fatherhood and adult responsibilities spark bouts of spectacularly inappropriate behavior from the title character in “The Almost Man.” A slender but polished dramedy, Norwegian helmer-writer Martin Lund’s second feature should play best to young-adult audiences, who will be more inclined to sympathize with the protagonist’s emotions and be more amused by his antics. The pic proved a success at the youth-oriented Karlovy Vary fest, where it claimed kudos for film and actor. Further fest play is a given, with niche theatrical chances in some territories. Domestic rollout via SF Norge commences Sept. 14.

Thirty-five-year-old Henrik (Henrik Rafaelsen, “Happy Happy”) prefers to horse around with his irresponsible pals (naked locker-room towel snapping, anyone?) rather than join the sensible adult world repped by his pregnant girlfriend Tone (gorgeous redhead Janne Heltberg Haarseth in her first feature, a real find). As the couple moves into a new “grown-up” apartment, passive-aggressive Henrik lets Tone make all the decisions and do all the work, as if this new life phase has nothing to do with him. More egregiously, he ducks hosting duties during a dinner for her work colleagues and hides out in a guest’s car, where he deliberately urinates on a child’s book about Peter Pan (get it?).

Likewise, after an awkward first day at his new marketing job, Henrik makes only a half-hearted attempt to fit in. He further sabotages any chance of future success by punching one of his new colleagues after hours, when the man complains about the noise and nuisance from a wild party thrown by Henrik’s friends.

Although Henrik can be a loquacious charmer when playing games with Tone, he prefers to act out rather than sit down and manfully discuss their new reality. Somewhat later than one would expect, Tone’s patience starts to wear thin.

Lund’s single-issue screenplay is not exactly “Knocked Up” for the arthouse set, but like that pic, it has its share of male crudity and uninhibited moments. In spite of a little subtext about the ugly side of conformity and consumerism, it remains predominantly a film about one man’s difficult road to maturity. Carrying the show in a not-always-sympathetic part, Rafaelsen makes palpable the battle between id and superego.

The clean, good-looking production package is a visual pleasure, while the soundtrack of well-chosen pop hits provides ironic commentary on the action.

The Almost Man

Norway

Production: An SF Norge release of an Ape & Bjorn production in association with SF Norge, Shortcut Norge with the support of the NFI. (International sales: Level K, Copenhagen.) Produced by Ruben Thorkildsen. Directed, written by Martin Lund.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), Morten Halfstad Forsberg; editor, Lars Apneseth; music supervisor, Johan Husvik; production designer, Ann Kristin Talleraas; costume designer, Ida Toft; sound (Dolby Digital), Christian Schaaning. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (competing), June 30, 2012. Running time: 75 MIN.

With: With: Henrik Rafaelsen, Janne Heltberg Haarseth, Anne Ma Usterud, Tov Sletta, Kim Eidhagen, Per Kjaerstad, Tore Sagen.

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