Combustible Celluloid
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With: Robert Skjaerstad, Andrine Saether, Per Egil Aske, Eli Anne Linnestad
Written by: Pål Sletaune, Jonny Halberg
Directed by: Pål Sletaune
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Norwegian with English subtitles
Running Time: 83
Date: 03/19/2013

Junk Mail (1998)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Dead Letters

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Roy is a mailman who is not as noble as Kevin Costner in The Postman nor as dreamy as Massimo Troissi in Il Postino. In fact, he is a scuzzy, crummy, repulsive little guy who opens people's mail and dumps the stuff he doesn't feel like delivering in a forgotten spot behind the railroad tracks. Normally, lowlifes like this can be engaging, or at least funny, but I found Roy to have very little conscience or common sense, and thus I found it hard to laugh or care.

That's too bad because Junk Mail, a film from Norway written by Jonny Halberg and Pal Sletaune and directed by Sletaune, has a pretty clever idea and an interesting plot. (It reminded me a lot of Martin Scorsese's After Hours.) Roy finds a key accidentally left behind by a lovely blonde hearing-impaired dry cleaner. He goes into her apartment and pokes around. Soon, he finds out that the woman, Line, is involved in some kind of mysterious robbery and battery incident. She has a frightening looking boyfriend named Georg. Through a series of strange events and just pure bad luck, Roy has Georg and some other lowlife hoods after him.

Strangely, the movie just sort of leaves off at some point. Georg may or may not be dead, the hoods are still looking for Roy, we're not at all sure that Line and Roy are going to end up together. Not to mention that Roy has broken several laws over the course of the movie, and probably should be in jail.

I may be alone on this one. This movie has been awarded up the wazoo; The Critics Award at the Cannes Film Festival, as well as prizes from other film festivals all over the world. But the movie just never lifted me up and carried me along. I had to walk alongside it.

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