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VENICE 2008 Critics’ Week / Norway

Cold Lunch’s chilling stories

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Cold Lunch’s chilling stories

"Nobody wants to be alone, do they?" says young Heidi on the phone to her mother. Her husband mistreats her, abandons her and their baby of a few months and, once reconciled with her, makes love by brutally sodomising her. But nobody wants to be alone, do they?

Cold Lunch [+see also:
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– which opened Critics’ Week at the Venice Film Festival – is the remarkable feature debut by Norway’s Eva Sørhaug. The director studied at the Academy of Art College (MFA) in San Francisco, where she made several shorts, and attended the Swedish Drama School in Stockholm, before returning to her homeland, where her feature is set.

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With its classic but unpredictable plot, Cold Lunch retraces – in six chapters – the lives of five people in a residential area of Oslo over the course of 48 hours. The five "cold stories" are all subtly interlinked.

Loneliness is the common thread that defines and connects these lives: the humiliated wife plagued by feelings of guilt, the young penniless man who ends up prostituting himself in order to pay his rent, the building caretaker who looks after his handicapped daughter, the middle-aged bourgeois woman who takes a different man to bed every night, the young woman who has been shut away at home for years by her father and who, upon his death, discovers the world whilst remaining completely isolated. The latter character is played by Ane Dahl Torp (Shooting Star 2006) who won the Amanda Award for Best Actress for this film and calls to mind Sissy Spacek of the 1970s.

Seemingly harsh (no director has ever dared inflict such a horrible end on a newborn baby, attacked by fierce Hitchcock-like gulls) but tinged with human empathy, Cold Lunch closes with a final chapter entitled "Paradise regained". Perhaps it’s possible to emerge from Hell but it’s difficult to escape from loneliness. Northern European films thus continue to tackle social issues with flashes of paradox.

Written by Per Schreiner and produced by Håkon Øverås of 4 ½, Cold Lunch was released domestically in February and garnered over 75,000 admissions. The film stars some of Norway’s most sought-after actors, including Aksel Hennie, Pia Tjelta, Nicolai Cleve Broch, Biørn Floberg and Dahl Torp.

(Translated from Italian)

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