The BackShop Journal

A Gallery of Thoughts on Arts, Culture and Orthodox Christian Spirituality

The Rules for Everything (Norway, 2017)

Norwegian film The Rules for Everything, written and directed by Kim Hiorthøy, has all the right elements for a good existentialist film, but those elements do not quite gel into a cohesive whole. As a directorial debut, though, the film shows the potential of its author and cinematographer to make artistic, thoughtful creations. The film's strongest point is probably its ironic, absurd humour.

After a visual and philosophical introduction about the world regulated by rules, the plot starts when a husband brings a lover to his apartment, introduces her to his wife, and tells her she will from that point on live with them. Optimistically and enthusiastically, he tries to convince his wife that this is normal, since we will all sooner or later die, and then why not live our lives to the fullest. The cheerful lovers then go out on the street, kiss on the pavement and get run over by a bus. For the rest of the film, the wife and her ten-year-old daughter, Storm, are trying to cope with the loss of husband and the loss of meaning in this fleeting life.

Perhaps the most memorable character in this comedy/drama is Hrvoje, a diffident would-be new age guru, played by a young actor and dancer from Croatia living in Sweden, Pavle Heidler. He wants to make an instructional video with the main protagonist, the widow Agnes (played by English actress Natalie Press). One of Hrvoje's ideas is to overcome his fear of heights by jumping from a building on a pile of boxes. He survives, and celebrates by jumping out on the pavement, where he is run over by the same bus from the beginning of the film.

Kim Hiorthøy, who started his career as a musician and a graphic designer, has drawn on his multiple talents and humour in creating this film, but its purpose, other than making people chuckle here and there, remains unclear. His second feature will show whether he can utilise the best elements of this film, including traces of an interesting, meaningful plot, or get lost in his own existential confusion.

Svetozar Postic

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