The Bothersome Man (Brysomme mannen, Den) (2006)
|Year Of Production||2006|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Jens Lien|
Trond Fausa Aurvaag
Anders T. Andersen
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
Norwegian Dolby Digital 5.1 (224Kb/s)
Norwegian Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The Bothersome Man is the second feature from Norwegian director Jens Lien. And what a strange feature it is!
Andreas is clearly a man at the edge. When we first see him he is in a desolated underground subway station with only a pair of freaky lovers sucking face (kissing isn't the right word) for company. Within a minute the bored man steps out in front of a train. Fade to black and we are in a desolate landscape with a single road and a broken down service station as the only landmarks. Recalling Paris, Texas a hirsute scruffy Andreas steps off a bus, which promptly turns around and goes back in the same direction. This is the end of the line! He is greeted by an affable chap who takes him to his apartment and tells him that he should report to work tomorrow as an accountant. Andreas turns up and gets shown to his office by a friendly boss and is greeted in a friendly manner by all his co-workers. Everything seems perfect. In fact, it could be argued, once he hooks up with furniture saleswoman Anne Britt his life is set.
But things just aren't right. The food is bland. People talk about furniture and browse through IKEA type catalogues incessantly. Everything is nice. Sex with Anne Britt is perfunctory and mechanical. His job is not demanding and his boss tells him he should slack off a bit. When he casually slices off part of his finger at work he finds out two things - it bloody hurts and the finger grows back the next day!
Amongst the sterile surroundings and alcohol that doesn't get you drunk there are some sinister forces at work. Men in overalls seem to be in control of the citizens, tidying up excesses and removing suicides. It is hard to find fear below the surface of the general populace as there is nothing beneath the surface. When Andreas makes the dramatic decision to leave Anne Britt her query is whether he could do it after their Saturday dinner party.
Shades of Brazil, Kafka, Lynch and Beckett abound here as we viewers are never really sure whether this is some feverish dream. The bland surroundings create a paranoia dotted with darkly funny scenes such as the moment when the opening suicide is repeated and, rather than dying, Andreas is hit by train after train like a cartoon character, suffering increasingly horrific injuries. Eventually the plot moves on as Andreas decides to test the authorities by digging through a wall towards a tiny beam of light that promises a new world.
His desire for real emotion and freedom does not go unnoticed and he clearly becomes the bothersome man of the title. Conform or face the consequences becomes his dilemma.
The movie deliberately shies away from telling the audience whether the film is set in heaven, hell or just some weird Nordic city. Director Lien in an interview said that the radio play on which the film was based was more explicit on the location but that he was more interested in the audience finding their own meaning. This may frustrate those who like their mystery stories with an M Night Shyamalan reveal at the end.
The Bothersome Man is really a lot of fun for people who like mysteries shot through with black humour. The cast are not known internationally which helps give it an air of "anything can happen". The sparse cinematography and evocative music combine in a film which is a surprise packet (it doesn't even have a Wikipedia entry!). Lien is striking a blow against the human desire to conform which leads to a bleak "perfect" existence. In this Utopia all the annoyances of modern living - painful break-ups, stress at work, children and just plain getting loaded are all wiped out revealing a frightening clean slate underneath.
The Bothersome Man is presented on DVD in a 1.78:1 transfer close to its original cinematic aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.
The film is by no means big budget but it does have a nice look to it. By "nice look" I mean a look consistent with the whole sterile world in which the film is set. Director Lien has said that a great deal of effort went into finding dull colourless locations. The effort was worth it. The film has a real bad dream quality without resorting to obviously draining colour from the digital intermediate. The locations are architecturally striking though at times frighteningly post modern. It is an IKEA world!
Therefore the colours are clear if pasty and the skin tones are perfect. There is a fine grain but nothing noticeable. The film itself is clear of artefacts and there are no compression related issues. This is perhaps not surprising given that this short film is given a DVD 9 in which to work. There are no aliasing issues or other problems.
The subtitles are clear and easy to read.
In short, the film is beautiful to look at even though the look and composition are designed to reflect a lifeless world. In particular, the scenes in "the desert" throughout the film were shot in Iceland and have a rugged beauty.
The sound for The Bothersome Man comes in two flavours : Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0. Unusually, both run at a very low 224 Kb/s.
This would tend to imply that sound is not important in the film. Nothing could be further from the truth. To emphasise the sterility of the world much of the world is practically silent and little sounds such as a creaking sign are used to draw attention to the emptiness of everything else. The sound mix is quite good and there were times where the slightest noise would sound like a bomb going off amongst the dead surroundings.
It is advisable to listen to the surround track although the differences may at first seem very subtle. The subwoofer is fairly quiet throughout though.
The music is an effective combination of a modern soundtrack and some excerpts from modern and classical composers. Given the far north connection it is perhaps not surprising that the music of Grieg pops up from time to time.
The soundtrack is in Norwegian. The dialogue was clearly spoken.
Audio sync looked fine to me.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This DVD is available in Region 1. That DVD apparently includes a short film and some information about the director and cast but is otherwise pretty barren. The Region 2 UK release is completely barren of extras and, like the Region 1, has only 2.0 sound.
The French Region 2 has a couple of interesting extras including an interview with director Jens Liens (23:19) and "Natural Glasses" short film (1:00) but unfortunately has only French subtitles.
On the face of it the best edition available seems to be the Region 2 Norway edition which has an audio commentary by director Jens Liens and screenwriter Per Schreiner as well as a "Making-of" featurette (20:00) and Storyboards. This edition is apparently English subtitled but I don't know whether the commentary and extras are also subtitled. Perhaps one of our Norwegian readers could fill me in on this.
For safety's sake I will still rate Region 4 as the best.
The Bothersome Man is a dark and intriguing tale. It doesn't contain many answers but it does have enough questions to encourage lively debate with your film buddy.
The transfer is pretty good all round capturing the mood of the film perfectly.
Extras? What extras? A disappointment.
|DVD||Pioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output|
|Display||Pioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||JBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer|