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"Home sweet home is nice, but celebrating is even better"

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Charlotte Blom • Director


- Cineuropa met with Charlotte Blom, the young Norwegian director who has just shot her first feature, Staying Alive

Charlotte Blom  • Director

In Grünerløkka, the Oslo neighbourhood where most of the scenes of Staying Alive [+see also:
film review
interview: Charlotte Blom
film profile
were filmed, Cineuropa met with Charlotte Blom, the young Norwegian director of this debut feature, produced by Maipo Film. This bitter-sweet comedy brings us together with a young couple that we will watch fall apart when it comes to light that the gentleman is having an affair.

Cineuropa: Staying Alive... a song title.
Charlotte Blom: This Bee Gees song, present in the film, evokes one of the main themes: survival and how it works in a hostile environment, or one that’s perceived as such, how to deal with and dodge the blows, how to return them which strategies to adopt. The music by Marvin Gaye and by Benny Anderssons Orkester also plays its part. As does, in person, Johnny Logan, Eurovision Contest winner who sings his very sentimental ballad Hold me now. I wanted to have popular and well-known music for my film, in order to strengthen the story’s credibility.

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Why this film?
After two experimental short films, I really wanted to make a comedy with a serious central theme. A breakup, in itself, is far from being funny, as we all know, with its difficult moments, its delicate situations. Particularly when the couple has children, as is the case of Marianne and Håkon, the heroes of my story. Despite everything I believe that humour and comedy also have a place in such a context. For me, humour is a way of building a bond with the viewer, who can thus easily identify himself with the characters, and become part of the plot all the while keeping his distance.

Do you have a mentor, a favourite director?
No, not really. A film that I feel quite close to however, is Together by Swedish director Lukas Moodysson. This movie tells the tale of a hippy community in Sweden in the 70s. With accuracy and elegance Moodysson was able to strike the balance between seriousness and humour. For my part I chose to construct Staying Alive as a song by Abba, keeping in mind the fact that it’s unique and charming, and I lent a bit of joy and care freeness to my short films.                

The screenplay and the dialogue...
They’re also by me. This writing work took me two years. Very quickly I was sure of the beginning and end of the story, but organising the intermediary scenes to ensure that everything would work as best as possible, to ensure that the essence of each scene was preserved so that humour would not prevail over suffering... all of that was not at all easy. I was helped by Žaklina Stojcevska for the editing.

How did you choose the actors?
The main actors are very well known. You’ve definitely already seen Agnes Kittelsen and Anders Baasmo Christiansen, notably in Kon-Tiki [+see also:
film review
film profile
by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg. First I looked for my Marianne, and I saw in Agnes a broad spectrum of emotions, the different facets inherent to the role, in particular that lively and daring side. I constructed the distribution of parts around her, because although my film’s not really feminist, it contains feminist features.

And Christiansen?
I was taken in by his subtlety, his finesse, his innate sense of comedy, key qualities for playing the complex character Håkon, with his strength, but also with his cowardice and his flaws. I’d also like to mention Linn Skåber who plays Kristin, the loyal and obliging good girlfriend, with a zest for life, she’s so funny, the confidante always willing to give advice.

Truls, Kristin’s companion, is a terrible driver. We see him on several occasions attempting to parallel park.
These repetitive scenes act as the chorus does in Greek tragedy; this chorus narrates the action and the drama, by highlighting the importance of events, as Kristin and Truls do in their car.

Marianne seems a bit tense and fearful when faced with her parents.
That’s true; the older people in my film have are very laid-back and this behaviour could seem immoral. Over the years they’ve come to understand that it’s not easy to stick to moral conformity. They’ve discovered an easy-going lifestyle that might shock some people, but that offers them balance and fulfilment. It’s up to each individual to find their own way of life. «Home sweet home is nice, but celebrating is even better», as said in the movie. This philosophy of existence is as good as any other... for them in any case. 

(Translated from French)

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