Thursday, September 20, 2012
TIFF Review: 90 Minutes
Posted by Courtney Small
Eva Sørhaug’s latest film, 90 Minutes, is an extremely well made drama that offers a lot to think about. Unfortunately, the film’s brutal honesty will hinder it from reaching a wider audience. It is a film that will leave those who enjoyed it feeling cold and elicit walkouts by those angered.
A study of the male psyche and the rage that comes from it, 90 Minutes focuses on three distinct stories all connected by acts of violence. In one story an older business man, Johan (Bjorn Floberg), is shown tidying up his affairs. He cancels services and gets rid of an apartment he was renting, but his reasons are not explained at first. The next tale revolves around a policeman named Fred (Mads Ousdal) who bickers with his wife, Elin (Pia Tjelta), while trying to deal with a house full of children running around, and neigbours popping by. The last, and most violent of the stories, centers around Trond (Headhunters’ Aksel Hennie), a young man who seems to be annoyed by the local youth playing loudly outside on the street below.
While this all may seem normal at first, it is only when Trond goes into his bedroom does the true nature of the film reveal itself. Sørhaug leaves the camera firmly planted outside the door as we see Trond hopping in bed and begin making love to a woman. After several minutes of watching this from a distance, Sørhaug reveals that the woman is actually Trond’s wife, Karianne (Kaia Varjord), who has been gagged and tide to the bed. It is at this point that the men’s true lives are shown. Johan is getting his affairs in order as he is preparing to go through with his sinister plan. As for Fred, his happy home is anything but. It is revealed that he and Elin are actually divorced and Fred is only there, much to Elin’s dismay, for his scheduled visitation.
The tension escalates as each story has its own varying level of domestic violence. The subtle, and dare we say, more poetic act of violence in Johan’s story is equally as unhinging as the shocking moments in Fred and Trond’s stories. Eva Sørhaug clearly is making a point about how it does not matter what ones social status is in life, any man is capable of resorting to such acts.
Sørhaug offers a somber and chilling look at the state of the modern male, and their inability to cope with living up to the archetypes that come with “being a man.” In each segment there are subtle nods to each man losing some aspect of power in their daily lives. Unable to deal with this perceived emasculation, they feel their only option is to resort to violence as a form of empowerment. However, in each situation it is clearly an act of cowardice and not power that you are witnessing.
Despite being a well made film, 90 Minutes is a film that is tough to recommend to others. This is mainly due to the fact that it will leave viewers feeling cold, which is exactly what Sørhaug seems to be going for. There are not going to be too many people who will be in the mood to endure watching the incidents of violence and rape depicted in this film. While Sørhaug alludes to the possibility of hope at the end, it is not enough to overshadow the bleakness of the production. 90 Minutes is a brutally honest film that will certainly divide audiences. However, do not let this deter you from seeing the film. 90 Minutes is a film that should be both viewed and appreciated. Eva Sørhaug skillfully provides a unique and disturbing take on the male psyche that you will not soon forget.