Directed by Bent Hamer
Country: Norway / Germany
“1001 Grams” is a low-key Norwegian drama written, produced, and directed by Bent Hamer and starring Ane Dahl Torp, Laurent Stocker, Stein Winge, and Hildegun Riise.
If Mr. Hamer had caused a very positive impression by using an unconventional storytelling in his past dramatic comedies, “Kitchen Stories”, “Factotum” and “O’Horten”, now I must confess I was a bit disappointed with this cold pseudo-scientific experience.
The story’s central character is Marie Ernst (Torp), a valuable element of the team that works at the Norwegian Metrology Center, which next goal is to present their kilogram prototype, which has to be handled with extreme care, at an important kilo seminar in Paris. The brain behind the experiments is her father, Ernst Ernst (Winge), an old-school investigator and widower who misses his wife more than anything else, lately spending his days drinking alone and sleeping on his farm’s hay. Weak, unmotivated to work, and consumed by guilt about how he put away his younger brother from the inherited family farm, Ernst ends up in the hospital with a heart attack, dying a few days after talking to Marie for the last time.
Marie is not a happy person either. She’s still trying to cope with a recent divorce and practically only speaks with Wenche (Riise), a co-worker who plays the role of a confidante, even if the glacial Marie always enforces some distance between them. Marie starts traveling on a regular basis to Paris to attend the awaited seminar, in which the boring scientific discussions put a few participants asleep. There, she gets to know a French physician and professor, Pi (Stocker), also a part-time gardener, becoming very attached to him and eventually finding the love that had disappeared from her life for a while. Enjoying the company of each other, they form an efficient and helpful team in all circumstances. Marie helps Pi with his challenging research project about birds’ song and communication while Pi gets the right person to fix the kilo’s capsule when Marie has a car accident.
The film is comforting in a certain way, but also too introspective and often inexpressive, moving at a snail-pace and being incapable of drawing any special vibrancy of the characters and situations. It’s a case to say that “1001 Grams” was much lighter than it promised, abandoning me dead cold on my seat. A word of appreciation to Mr. Hamer’s habitual cinematographer, John Christian Rosenlund, whose beautiful color palettes administer a pleasant warmness, a factor the story could never provide by itself.