True story: in the 1950s, the Swedish Research Institute in Stockholm sent scientists into women’s homes to observe how much time it takes a housewife to walk from one appliance to the next. The goal was to perfect the ideal kitchen, and it was this stiff academic research (chronicled in a series of books) that gave director Bent Hamer the hook for Kitchen Stories, the story of a male “observer” sent into an old man’s home and the relationship that develops between the two over a series of days. The film begins promisingly enough. The Swedish Folke (Tomas Norström) arrives at the home of the Norwegian Isak (Joachim Calmeyer) and plants himself in the corner of the old man’s kitchen on a high chair that resembles a lifeguard’s post. It’s a great sight gag, but it’s one that doesn’t sustain the film for very long. Isak allows Folke to do his research, and the old man’s attempts to frustrate Folke are funny enough, but then Kitchen Stories turns into a male weepie with a serious case of the cutes. Hamer understands the clinical nature of Folke’s domestic experiment (the impossibility of two people living in a room together without ever talking to each other), but he doesn’t use this interaction to question the perils of modernism or misguided notions of nationalism. Hamer hints at tensions between Norwegians and Swedes, but the quirks in the script dutifully subjugate all serious thought. Kitchen Stories is a serviceable comedy but it’s without a brain.
- IFC Films
- 91 min
- Bent Hamer
- Jörgen Bergmark, Bent Hamer
- Joachim Calmeyer, Tomas Norström, Bjørn Floberg, Reine Brynolfsson, Sverre Anker Ousdal, Leif Andrée, Gard B. Eidsvold, Lennart Jähkel, Trond Brænne
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