MONSTERTHURSDAY

3 Stars
Year Released: 2004
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 103 minutes
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Even (Vegar Hoel) is suffering a bit of a crisis: his best friend Tord (Christian Skolmen) is getting married. No big deal, you say? How about if I told you Tord also happens to be marrying Even’s ex-wife Karen (Silje Salomonsen)? I think you’d agree with me that the guy has a pretty decent excuse to get drunk.

It isn’t as if drinking is that big a deal in Norway, of course. Even and his friends spend entire days sitting in and getting thrown out of bars. I’m sure someone could make a comment on the enabling aspects of the welfare state if they were so inclined, but I’m not (especially since these are some of the most harmless drunks I’ve ever seen). All that’s really important for you to know is that Even is in a bit of a rut and sorely in need of something to goose him in a new direction. This point which is hammered home after Even suffers a frightening car crash and his doctor demonstrates his need for change in a surprisingly violent fashion.

So depending on how you look at it, it would seem fortuitous that Tord has been called away to Singapore for his job, because he asks his good buddy Even to look after a very pregnant Karen while he’s away. This sounds like an invitation to disaster, but then, Tord is the same guy who asked his fiancée’s ex-husband to be best man at his wedding, so maybe not all his dogs are barking to begin with.

Even starts helping around the house, and he also decides to take up surfing like Tord (and I now have new respect for Norwegians after seeing how enthusiastically they take to paddling around in water that cold). His friend mocks him for merely trying to win Karen back, but Even takes to his new hobby with gusto, enlisting the aid of a local surfing legend to show him the ropes. Soon enough, he’s tackling larger and larger waves, even as Tord’s absence grows longer and longer, and he and Karen are forced to explore the nature of their feelings for each other. Events reach a climax as a huge storm approaches the coast, promising monster waves and some nifty symbolism.

The themes here are as timeworn as the Norwegian coast itself, but for the use of the surfing allegory and the understated performances which give the film an air of melancholy that matches the Scandinavian weather. As a surfing movie, “Monsterthursday” is no “Step Into Liquid,” but it’s not really trying to be. These guys make do with the waves and score points simply for being out there, wetsuits or not. The act of surfing is less a leisure time activity and more of a spiritual exercise for our principals. Director Arild Østin Ommundsen also uses it, as well as breathtaking shots of the coastline, to add some freshness to the proceedings. Ommundsen is definitely a talent to keep your eye on.



Posted on January 27, 2005 in Reviews by
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