1001 Grams (2014) | BFI London Film Festival

October 11th, 2014
Author: Meredith Taylor

Director:/Writer  Bent Hamer

Magne-Havard Brekke, Per Christian Ellefsen, Laurent Stocker, Peter Hudson, Stein Winge

93min  Comedy drama   Norway

An adult male’s cremated ashes weigh roughly 1000 grams. But how do you REALLY measure a human life? Bent Hamer’s thoughtful and surprisingly tender existentialist comedy (and Norway’s Oscar 2015 entry) takes an upbeat, tongue in cheek look at the meaning of life through two Norwegian scientists who live a regular and well-ordered existence in well-designed Norway.

Vibrantly shot in on the widescreen this is an expertly-crafted affair that proceeds with comfortable almost clock-work precision, cleverly echoing the lives of its protagonists. Marie (Ane Dahl Torp) works with her father, a respected international scientist Ernst (Stein Winge) at the Norwegian Institute of weights and measures where the Norwegian ‘Kilo” is kept. This is an absurdly revered prototype of an exact kilo in weight, forged in platinum and iridium blah blah blah. When her father falls ill, Marie is tasked with taking the esteemed “kilo” package  to Paris to attend a conference comparing it with kilos from associate countries, so providing an international benchmark. Through this absurdist narrative, Hamer muses on the triviality of daily life and how we waste our time with the minutiae, rather than focusing on the big picture, on what’s really meaningful to us and nourishes our souls.

Played with beedy-eyed rectictude by Torp, (in the style of Greta Garbo’s famous Russian functionary: Ninotchka) Marie is a tightly-coiled spring, who chain smokes and performs her days politely. She is all about control: from her minimalist house with sad lighting to the practical electric car, her clothes neat and serviceable, her days full of duty: efficiency personified.

But in Paris, the sun warms her days and her nights look promising too with the arrival of Laurent Stocker’s birdsong enthusiast, Pi, who tends the gardens of the conference centre. Despite a mishap on the kilo front things are set to improve, her finds a meaning. A delightful and serene addition to Hamer’s repertoire. MT

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