Original

Original

1.5 out of 5 1.5 out of 5 1.5 out of 5 1.5 out of 5 1.5

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A twee Danish comedy that alternates trite New Age psychological moves with outbursts of cartoonish violence, Original has for a hero Henry (Sverrir Gudnason), a doe-eyed, high-cheekboned man-boy whose middle-class, unexamined life veers into reconstruction mode when he suddenly becomes jobless and single. Mugging sweetly without ever being particularly funny or compelling, he enters upon a Peter Pan identity crisis with preachy self-awareness (“Life should be lived,” he waxes in Buelleresque narration). Burdened with an institutionalized, delusional mother (after his father’s demise in a grotesquely unfunny hunting accident), he does his best to prop up her fantasy image of him as a successful military officer by shooting faux home videos in IKEA. Determined to spring Mom from the clutches of a callous clinical hypnotist, he’s aided by a tracksuited gourmet (David Dencik) who spins a grand scheme of the two of them opening a restaurant in Spain, and a fiercely feminist performance artist (Tuva Novotny) whose heart Henry melts with a seductive swap of cooking tips. If this sounds like writer-directors Alexander Brøndsted and Antonio Tublén have a severe case of the cutes, they do, and while their visuals possess a hint of Aki Kaurismäki’s grainy Scandinavian absurdism, their more desperate antic passages more closely resemble wacky beer commercials. Novotny scores with a strip-club act, sneering, “You fuck! You suck!,” while costumed as Rosie the Riveter, but her character softens too quickly; Dejan Cukic draws a few laughs as her moronic drug-dealing manager. Alas, Henry’s mom-saving crusade is as heavy-handed and lugubrious as Sam Rockwell’s in last year’s Choke, and then the filmmakers pull an 11th-hour gimmick that compares badly with one from Fight Club. Henry may aspire to be “a brilliant original and not a pale copy,” but Original plays like a weak Chuck Palahniuk plot stuffed with coyness.

Runtime
101 min
Rating
NR
Year
2008
Director
Alexander Brøndsted, Antonio Tublén
Screenwriter
Alexander Brøndsted, Antonio Tublén
Cast
Sverrir Gudnason, Tuva Novotny, David Dencik, Ghita Nørby, Dejan Cukic, Jesper Christensen