Movies about the pernicious gulch between extended adolescence and mature adulthood—especially for bourgeois white men—aren’t exactly few and far between. Martin Lund’s The Almost Man takes a more jaundiced eye to the arrested-development shenanigans of its 35-year-old antihero, Henrik (Henrik Rafaelsen), who’s expecting a baby with his girlfriend, Tone (Janne Heltberg Haarseth), than the likeminded tales of Judd Apatow—but not by much. Henrik is incapable of articulating his feelings outside of crass humor and play-acting, and responds to his looming responsibilities by retreating closer to his inner 15-year-old. Lund’s script is perspicacious in making Henrik’s bad choices understandable enough emotionally, but also nudges the audience toward wishing the man would wise up: That Henrik gets drunk and makes an ass of himself at a party cluttered with Tone’s wine-sipping, well-to-do friends isn’t actually a symptom of their blandness nearly as much as his own anxiety.
In one scene, Henrik has a spat with one of his dudebro friends and refuses to accept a ride home, only for his pals to pull up at the bus stop, blocking traffic and refusing to budge until he gets in the car, obnoxiously blasting a Euro-house remix of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” The film pulsates with chop-busting energy for the subsequent impromptu carpool party scene, one of many instances where Lund shows both his audience and antihero a great time—only to pop the balloon when Henrik returns home to an angry, tired, sofa-bound Tone. This type of counterbalancing (inane fun versus appropriate guilt) breeds a special narrative uncertainty lacking in The Almost Man’s American equivalents, and it gives the film a surprising degree of suspense—but it can’t last. Lund’s over-identification with Henrik is also his undoing, as the film’s twee, floral formal trappings create a sense of inevitability that he’ll do the right thing before the brief narrative reaches its peak. Albeit leveraged with unoppressive camerawork and gentle, reasonable inducement, The Almost Man is nonetheless a weird mix: a feel-good sermon.