A film by Bent Hamer
I thoroughly enjoyed this bittersweet, multi-layered gem of a film from Bent Hamer. This Norwegian comedy/drama spoken in Norwegian with English subtitles was an easy film to follow since so much of the story had deep non verbal communication. This quirky, deadpan, warm, sensitive, film shows how the austere rules laid out on paper are softened by the human need to communicate.
In order to be on 24-hour call, the observers will live in egg-shaped campers outside each subject's house. From high, custom-made observation chairs strategically placed in each kitchen, few activities will escape this new science. The observers must be allowed to come and go as they please, and under no circumstances must they be spoken to or included in kitchen activities...
Kitchen Stories has been nomination as Best Foreign Language Film for the Oscars this year as well as being selected as Norway's 2004 Oscar candidate. Tomas Norström plays Folke as the shy, sweet scientist and Joachim Calmeyer plays the gruff elderly farmer Isak he's observing make an endearing odd couple, the funny center to Bent Hamer's satire on the importance of communication in the fight against scientific rationalization of the soul.
Kitchen Stories was co-written and directed
The Swedish Home Research Institute's laboratories did research into how best to organize kitchen workstations.
They had concluded: "Instead of a housewife having to walk the equivalent of Sweden to the Congo during a year of cooking, she now only needs to walk to northern Italy to get food on the table."
Hamer told BBC News Online: "I'd seen books like these 25 years ago and they really made me laugh, especially all the detailed diagrams.
The film is a bizarre take on 1950s Norway
"After finding the books again the idea came to me - what if a study had been done on men - in particular bachelors?"
"The film was challenging to make because on the surface it was very serious, with the men barely speaking to each other - but the seriousness of the situation helped create the humour," Norwegian-born Hamer said.
He added he had chosen to cast only men in the film "because it was easier - besides, if there had been women playing observers in the film it would have added a sexual dimension, and I didn't want that".
His co-star Joachim Calmeyer, who plays Isak, agreed.
"I'm also old enough to remember the 1950s and the film captured the era so well - I fell in love with the script," said Calmeyer, who has been given the Norwegian equivalent of a knighthood for his contribution to acting.
Both men said the film had initially been difficult to make, with Norstrom adding: "It's challenging to feel safe and secure in front of the camera when you appear to be doing
"You just had to trust the situation," said Calmeyer. "It was all a matter of getting the timing right."
Directed by: Bent Hamer
Written by: Bent Hamer, Jörgen Bergmark
With: Bjørn Floberg, Joachim Calmeyer, Tomas Norström
Country: Norway, Sweden
Year of Production: 2003
Running Time: 95 minutes
Distributor: IFC Films