Dir.: Anders Emblem; Cast: Amalie Ibsen Jensen, Maria Agwumaro; Norway 2021, 76 min.
Norwegian writer/director Anders Emblem (Hurry Slowly) creates a slow-moving, considered portrait of a couple recovering from a trauma, set in the idyllic harbour town of Alesund.
The peaceful settings are not just mere background, but play an instrumental part in the interplay with the human duo: often movement is replaced by still shots, and the protagonists enter spaces or depart, dissolving into the panoramic idyll of placid landscapes, in the same style as Kogonada’s 2017 feature Columbus.
The relationship between journalist Asta Ostram (Jensen) and her partner Maria (Agwumaro) is anything but idyllic. Asta returns to work for the Alesund ‘Sommosposten’ newspaper, where she covers local news. All her colleges welcome her back, but we learn from their worried looks that all is not well with Asta.
At home, where a cat dominates the domestic spaces, the tension is even more obvious. Maria is a furniture restorer, doubling up as a composer on keyboards. She does her best to give her partner enough room for the yet unspecified wound to heal – both physically and psychologically.
Asta copes well with routine assignments, but her heart is not in it. At home, she slowly lets Maria get closer to her, very much the wounded animal. Then Asta comes clean about the case of Aslan, an asylum seeker, who ten years ago entered Norway where he worked in a fish factory near Alesund. Then the company had to close because of infringements of the Labour Laws, and Aslan, who was ‘illegal, faced forcible extradition from Norway. With Asta on the search for the elusive Aslan, she lets her guard down, and allows Maria to literally touch her injury. We hope that Asta can also find Aslan before its too late.
DoP Michael Mark Lanham uses the setting of Alesund as a background for the protagonists who fade in and out of the momentous landscapes. The attic of the couple’s flat is a peaceful sanctuary, underlining the placid atmosphere, a natural habitat for their cat. Asta’s crisis is real enough, yet the narrative feels more like a fairytale fable, where a pervasive dread often engulfs the couple as they work through their individual issues in non-verbal contemplation rather than open conflict. Human Position is an acquired taste, but patience is rewarded with a unique experience. AS
OPENING FILM OF THE 32nd Tromso Film Festival 2022