CINEMA REVIEW: SICK OF MYSELF (2022)
Written and Directed by: Kristoffer Borgli
Produced by: Andrea Berentsen Ottmar, Dyveke Bjørkly Graver
Cast: Kristine Kujath Thorp , Eirik Sæther, Fanny Vaager, Henrik Mestad, Andrea Bræin Hovig, Steinar Klouman Hallert, Fredrik Stenberg, etc.
Cinematography by Benjamin Loeb
*** MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ***
Human beings are capable of incredible acts of compassion, creativity, kindness, artistry, charity, care and beauty. But I have to admit there is a flaw, and in some people a sickness, which makes them narcissistic, selfish and image-obsessed with the constant need for attention. Indeed, with the advent of mobile phones and social media anyone with an internet connection can drop a video on YouTube, Facebook, TikTok or Instagram and get instant gratification. Not to mention the plague of TV talent and reality programming which showcase the epitome of this “me-me-me” generation.
Maybe society has always been like this, full of attention seekers desiring to become actors or singers or comedians or artists. But now there is a constant platform for the talented, untalented and arguably mentally unbalanced to post their wares online for an ego hit, likes and if they’re lucky, to “go viral.” But it’s just a bit entertainment isn’t it? A bit of a laugh? Getting a bit of attention and maybe even becoming famous. But there is a dark, horrific side to social media and reality show attention. The internet is replete with stories about people who have killed themselves having found “fame” this way. Sometimes too much attention becomes too much for some.
The Norwegian black comedy, Sick of Myself (2022) written and directed by Kristoffer Borgli, darkly explores the themes of narcissism, art and attention-seeking through the twentysomething characters of Signe and Thomas. The couple live somewhat regular lives in Oslo. Signe is a coffee shop server, while Thomas is an aspiring artist. Two excellent scenes introduce their characters succinctly. Thomas, who it is revealed throughout to be a kleptomaniac, initially gets a hit stealing an expensive bottle of wine from a posh restaurant. While Signe gets a massive adrenaline punch from the attention she receives when assisting a bloodied customer savaged by a dog. These fascinating narrative strands are the foundation for a series of funny, cringeworthy and horrific scenes expertly developed by Borgli.
The film is very much delivered in a believable and realistic style as, Sick of Myself (2022), develops its character and thematic analysis with understated direction. But the actions of the characters are anything but understated. Signe diverts attention away from Thomas’ growing fame in the art world by resorting to more extreme ways to get people to notice to her. The initial comedic situations, such as Signe faking a nut allergy to interrupt Thomas’ speech in a restaurant, give way to constant lying and actual self-harm, as her personality is blighted by undiagnosed Munchausen’s syndrome. With echoes of DeNiro’s and Scorsese’s The King of Comedy (1983), Signe is a grotesque creation reflecting a dangerous side within our society. But whereas Rupert Pupkin had a goal to become a famous stand-up comedian, Signe, as portrayed with muted and natural brilliance by Kristine Kujath Thorp, has no such career desire other than to just be constantly noticed. She is a tragic character, like many in society, who desperately need psychological help.