CATEGORIES Comedy, Foreign Language, Theatrical Reviews, Festival Reports, Toronto International Film Festival, Cinematical Indie, Toronto Film Festival, Reviews, Cinematical
The nameless lead, simply called "Him" (Trond Fausa Aurvaag) of Gone with the Woman is just your average guy. He's the quintessential bachelor, enjoying his space and delighting in the quirks of solitary male life. The harmony of his routine however, which is ironically displayed on his t-shirt, is quickly thrown out the window by the arrival of Marianne (Marian Saastad Ottesen). She just shows up, praising the wonder of silence, yet not understanding that in order to get it, she'd have to be quiet. But he doesn't tell her that, or anything for that matter. He just lets her visit more and more, slowly morphing his life into what she wants it to be.
Instead of communicating with Marianne, he joins the local pool and finds himself closely followed by a man named Glenn (Peter Stormare). Following the advice of Glenn, a number of other sweaty, sauna men, and the addled thoughts in his head, he decides to have sex with her, be there for her, and fall in love with her -- as if it is something you arbitrarily choose to do. But as you can imagine from a woman who chatters on endlessly about the wonders of silence, life with Marianne is anything but normal.
Pretty much the only decision "Him" makes is to fall for Marianne. Otherwise, Marianne is in the saddle -- controlling where furniture goes, when they'll go on trips, and everything else that pops up. Her man is just along for the ride. When she decides they will jump on a train and travel through Europe, however, the faint beginnings of turmoil pop up. He watches her bad attitude ruin their time in Paris, and he's angered when she blows him off to stay with a crazy couple in a countryside castle. He goes back to the French city on his own, and almost has an affair with an enchanting French woman named Mirlinda (Louise Monot). Unlike Marianne, he clearly falls for this girl fast and hard, but he has decided to love his girlfriend, so he leaves France and heads back to Norway. After all of this, things go even less smoothly.
The basic plot of Gone with the Woman is enjoyable. There are lots of quirky scenes, and definitely some solid laughs -- like the lead's first introduction to Glenn. That being said, the film is weighed down by the lack of reality in Marianne. While some of her actions can ring true on their own, together they form an almost impenetrable shell for stereotypes. Marianne is controlling, self-centered, flighty -- pretty much the embodiment of every rampant female stereotype. She's never shown with any sort of depth -- she's just a cliched hurricane wrecking this guy's life.
This is, however, softened by Aurvaag's performance, and the silent suffering that screams behind his eyes. He's charming enough, even as a lame push-over, to dull the slap of Marianne's stereotypical nature. The best, and most natural scenes come when she's not there, whether the lead is talking with Glenn (Stormare is wonderful), or falling for Mirlinda. In these scenes, there is still comedy, but it is much more palpable because it holds some reality, and some chemistry.
All of this comedic turmoil is wrapped up in a nicely-shot, fantastical bow, sort of like Amelie -- but with half the success. In this film, the fantastical elements just seem thrown in. The yellow dresser, for example, just seems like this schticky piece of furniture that the lead keeps going back to, but director Petter Næss is actually using it as a fantastical symbol.
It's just that something is lost in translation -- it could be from the ideas in Næss' head, or perhaps the translation from Norwegian to North American shores, but whatever the case, Gone with the Woman is an amusing film that should provide some laughs, but also falls short of being all that it could.