Kitchen Stories

Kitchen Stories

2003, NR, 93 min. Directed by Bent Hamer. Starring Joachim Calmeyer, Bjørn Floberg, Reine Brynolfsson.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., April 2, 2004

In the science of observation, we have learned that any interaction between the observer and the subject automatically skews the outcome. The scientists of Sweden’s Home Research Institute have had this caution repeatedly drummed into their heads. A post-WWII group of home scientists, the institute conducts efficiency studies designed to bring science to the placement of kitchen work stations so that women need to take fewer steps to accomplish the same amount of work and conserve human resources. Now the institute is embarking on a study of single men in a remote section of Norway, where there just so happens to be a lot of bachelors. Folke (Tomas Norström) is assigned to Isak (Calmeyer), who wants to back out of the study and consequently starts messing with Folke’s head. Then Folke surreptitiously uses the salt shaker in Isak’s kitchen, and before long, science has been supplanted by human interest. Kitchen Stories is a dry comedy about the subtle connections between individuals. The comedy is most obvious in some of the film’s opening sequences, which include some humorous newsreel footage of the institute’s studies and the images of a long caravan of motor homes wending its way to Norway. Folke eventually becomes just one more lonely and isolated man living in this inhospitable sub-Arctic locale, having more in common with his subject than his fellow scientists. The comedy plays out in near-wordless exchanges between Folke and Isak, and the viewers become the real researchers in this movie as we watch and try to make sense of what is going on. Writer-director Bent Hamer’s comedy is subdued and dependent on expert timing, though the film might have benefited from taking its human observations a couple steps farther. But, I suppose, that would have been inefficient. As it is, Kitchen Stories is an enjoyable study of ridiculous regimentation and a sure balm to anyone who has overdosed on the efficient designs at Ikea.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Bent Hamer Films
O'Horten
This strange little Danish gem tells the story of the aptly named Odd Horten, a man cut from his moorings when he's forced to take retirement at age 67.

Marc Savlov, Aug. 7, 2009

Factotum
Charles Bukowski's Henry Chinaski is back, played by Matt Dillon in a low-key, gorgeously beery performance; it's 100-proof Bukowski, but with a decent barkeep at the helm and Lili Taylor's Jan on his arm. Factotum, for all its grim grind, is funny-serious and smart-stupid.

Marc Savlov, Sept. 8, 2006

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
Ash Is Purest White
The emotional cost of a life of crime across two decades in Northern China

March 22, 2019

The Wedding Guest
A simmering thriller of international abduction and pursuit

March 22, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Kitchen Stories, Bent Hamer, Joachim Calmeyer, Bjørn Floberg, Reine Brynolfsson

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle