Movie review: “Everyone hates Johan” – Easy exchange for the village animal

Drama comedy

Director:

Hallvar Witzø

Actors:

Pål Sverre Hagen, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Vee Vimolmal, John Brungot, Ine Jansen, Ingunn Øyen, Paul-Ottar Haga, Trond-Ove Skrødal, Hermann Sabado

Premieredata:

25.03.2022

Age limit:

12 years


«A witty, absurd and lengthy affair.»


See all reviews

Today, the debut award was announced. The winning title “One last look at everything beautiful” is described as a book about “desire and loneliness, about loss and forgiveness”. If I was nice at it, I could describe this weird movie in the same way. It is about a loner who is in love with the girl next door in a landscape where everything is beautiful (coast, fjord, rock, parkas!) In the Norwegian-film-like way. Yes, this is the most photogenic landscape you have seen since “Sky Blue”. The difference is that the book is written by debutant Kristin Vego, and “Everyone hates Johan” is written by the bearded Trøndelag resident Erlend Loe.

“Everyone hates Johan” is the most insidious film I have seen since Roy Andersson’s “About the Infinite” (2019). The film is petty and dark and I’m glad that something so recklessly obscure is being made in Norway. But then something happens, it becomes lazy and slow as a village animal dormant. Akk. “Everyone Hates Johan” is a hilarious long-running affair.

Harry dynamite

On a windswept island off the Trøndelag coastline, we meet Johan (Pål Sverre Hagen). He is not an obvious object of hatred, as the title would have it, rather sweet in his fumbling naivete. But – it must be said – he is a little different, and there is always a danger in small places. Someone must be hated and Johan stood out early as a candidate. Already as a child he was noted for his peculiarities. They are inherited sins in the Grande family to count.

Oh, the Grande family … For a thousand years they have lived on Titran on Frøya. this weather-beaten island community west of the entrance to the Trondheim Fjord. His parents were bridge-breaking communists during the war (we are in 1942), and we follow Johan’s upbringing where he gets an outlet for his talent for dynamite. But there is nothing wrong with him.

That Johan is really unusual makes him an easy prey for the village animal. But the beast would rather go to bed. “You’ve always been different” and “you stand out” are the chorus throughout the film, and yes, we understand that right away. There’s no reason to hammer it in.

Rural absurdism

As long as the film keeps the petty tone and dares to play with the politically incorrect, it is promisingly good. Then it is ignited by “ugly” ambitions to play out humor scenarios and sketches in the story. After the charges have passed, I get a strong taste of KLM. And there is nothing wrong with that! But I’m bored when it’s overtaken by the plot.

LONELINESS IN TWINNESS: Johan (Pål Sverre Hagen) at one point gets his eyes open for Vietnamese Pey (Vee Vimolmal), but it gets a lot of fun.  Photo: Nordisk Film

LONELINESS IN TWINNESS: Johan (Pål Sverre Hagen) at one point gets his eyes open for Vietnamese Pey (Vee Vimolmal), but it gets a lot of fun. Photo: Nordisk Film
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The film plays a bit sour on an unresolved love story to the neighbor girl (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal), who will never end, and meets with his family (played by Paul Ottar Haga and Ingunn Beate Øyen). Despite excellent acting, it is at its most stagnant when the dialogues are smeared out in long scenes. And between the fun, the film is filled to the brim with such.

All-Trøndelag play

Critics who write about TV series have to decide on a question: Does the story deserve the long format? Now, this is not a series, but a movie, and I wonder if the movie deserves an hour and a half in theaters. There are many things that speak for a “yes”: Ambitions abound. It is unusually well played with a whole Trøndelag ensemble (except for the siddis who do well). Still, I can not shake off the impression that a tough, chuckling film could turn into some short-sighted, razor-sharp twenty-minute episodes à la «Vikings». Wouldn’t it be better?

In one scene, Johan talks about maybe it’s time to leave Titran, but after a short crossing to America, he’s back and plays yatzy. It is certainly not easy to be a village original in a new city.

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