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August 9, 2012

The Bothersome Man (2006)




You gotta love a good little dystopian movie. This one has some bonus metaphysical stuff going on too.

And from beginning to end, all of it is delivered in wonderful deadpan that simultaneously allows for dark humour, awkward humour and some serious dramatic impact as well; and it does it effortlessly, without ever feeling contrived or arbitrary. Or annoying. Deadpan can easily become annoying, but here it is used masterfully. Not only that, but it is also fully justified by the subject matter, and that probably goes a long way to making it feel acceptable, as opposed to 'LOOK AT HOW QUIRKY EVERYTHING IS, NOW POINT AND LAUGH AT IT.'

And I can't really go on without plugging in Wristcutters here. It seems that lately there's some sort of cosmic magnetism, I can't seem to watch a movie without another popping up in a matter of days that is related. And oh boy, do these make for one brilliant double feature. I recommend it.

So then, The Bothersome Man. This dude, Andreas, arrives at this place. At first, it seems more or less like a generic but modern European city, but soon it becomes apparent that something is not quite right. They don't really do anything special, or fancy, something is just a little bit off... Sterile. Great things are done with the costume design and cinematography to create an alien world, using simple means to achieve very impressive results.

Andreas is the perfect outsider in a world that is completely oblivious to its own predicament. Everything is all superficial interactions and blank consumerism, the food tasteless and the sex mechanical and Andreas is more or less the only person who seems to be bothered by it. He tries to make friends, a girlfriend, then a girlfriend on the side, but the only thing that seems to break through this sensory deprivation is a smell coming from a hole in a wall that, unfortunately for him, is terribly out of bounds.

What I found quite quaint about this one is that the movie is really not a cynical commentary on our artificial little society, but it so is. Sure there's all that life and death crap in the middle of it, but in a way The Bothersome Man has more in common with Fight Club than it does with The Sixth Sense, and when I stopped for a second to consider how a large part of my own life mirrored the film's cruel caricatures I realized that this one is not quite as far out there as it first seems.

Unfortunately when Andreas takes some drastic actions to change the status quo, these just blow up in his face. In an effort to go back to the greener pastures of the past, he just keeps going further and further in the opposite direction which makes the message here a bit of a downer. But hey, it is what it is.

I prefer to think of it in terms of a bit of a wake up call, if you will. For example I've never before used the term 'quite quaint' with a straight face. But I just did, and it felt pretty good - we're lucky. We have a wealth of experiences available to us, new things that we've never tried before.

Well why the fuck not?