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The Middle Man (Film Review)

2 min read

The Middle Man is a Norwegian dark-comedy film directed by Bent Hamer. It follows the story of Frank, a middle-aged man who, after a period of unemployment, finds a job as a Middle Man. That is, his job is to deliver bad news to the denizens of Karmack, USA. The town is economically depressed and cursed by accidents (never a good combination) but one that keeps Frank (Pål Hagen) busy in his new role. Soon the town's bad luck runs dry and Frank and his buddy Steve (Rossif Sutherland) find themselves at the local bar, hanging out. It is here that the town's bad luck returns, and Frank is left having to deal with the repercussions.

At first glance, the film seems promising. The premise is interesting, and Bent Hamer is a talented director. However, as the story unfolds, The Middle Man falls short of expectations. Instead the movie delivers an unremarkable viewing experience. It's unclear what the film is trying to say. Although there is a theme of interesting quirkiness running throughout, it doesn't seem to lead anywhere interesting.

It's not to say that the cinematography isn't good. John Christian Rosenlund does an excellent job capturing smalltown, USA. The shots are clear and tinged in blues and greys. The set design is also eye-catching, very 1950's hunting lodge. At times though, it gives away that the film isn't shot in the US, but rather neighbouring Canada.

As a film billed as a dark-comedy, it's a little light on laughs. After a while, one wishes that there was some more comedy to punctuate the darkness of the film. It's not that the film doesn't try to be funny, but during the few times that such attempts take place, the comedy falls flat.

The performances are decent from the actors. But it is almost as if they aren't given enough to work with and therefore struggle as a result. There is a remoteness which comes through in the performances, as though we never know what the characters motivations really are. Also the Scandinavian accents come through more often than anyone wants to admit.

 

The Middle Man manages to raise questions in well, who exactly would want to be a Middle Man? Would it be a realistic job in the near future? But these are questions without answers in this film. This is unfortunate, as it would be a good area to explore.

In the end, is The Middle Man worth a watch? It might be worth a rental at home. If one is in the mood for a slightly depressing Scandinavian film that is only OK. The film does have okay performances, and the visuals are compelling. However, The Middle Man is not a must-see movie.

The Middle Man is out in theaters on 10 March.