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Monday, February 29, 2016

1001 GRAMS (2014)

Drama is dosed out by the dram in Bent Hamer’s ‘late’ coming-of-age fable about a 30-something Ministry of Weights & Measures official who discovers the unquantifiable value of emotional connection when she takes her father’s place in Paris at an international ‘KILO’ convention. Composed largely in chilly Norwegian off-whites & blues, the story loses rather than gains interest when it blooms into fuller color under the Rabelaisian tutelage of a free-spirited Frenchman, an academic who gave up his position at the Institute of True Weight to work on its grounds as gardener. (An obvious idea that works better than it sounds, but still . . . ) Though not without passing charm, gentle laughs & off-beat visual dazzle (watch for a marvelous parade of blue umbrellas passing a line of trees), the story might have worked better condensed into an anthology film. As it stands, Hamer’s work feels uncomfortably perched between one of Aki Kaurismäki’s eccentric, yet satisfying minimalist fables; and a let-yourself-go screwball rom-com with, say, Irene Dunne or Jean Arthur.* (Come to think of it, the accident that brings on the third act is more like BRINGING UP BABY/’38.)

DOUBLE-BILL: *An odd pairing, but you can really see what Jean Arthur might have done with this in Billy Wilder’s bitter Cold War political comedy A FOREIGN AFFAIR/’48.

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