Movie review by Andrea Karen Hammer
Kitchen Stories, surprisingly billed as a comedy, is an understated film with subtle humor. Persistence in watching the movie, after a slow and somewhat confusing opening, pays off in quietly rendered and even poignant moments.
Clever Twist on Theme of Observation
The theme of observation is central to this story about a farmer reluctantly participating in a study. Initially a resistant “host,” Isak (Joachim Calmeyer) utters few words during his fairly dull daily routine. As Folke (Tomas Norström) silently monitors and records his kitchen activities from a high corner chair, they slowly form a connection after exchanging tobacco, coffee, food, drink and snippets of conversation–against the “rules.”
One particularly interesting plot twist is the question about who is the true observer. The farmer has secretly drilled a hole in his bedroom floor, where he can peer down on Folke’s notes.
When the observer is ill, the farmer contributes to the records about his own activities. Isak switches perspectives even further by sitting on Folke’s high seat, offering a new vantage point on his own kitchen–and life.
Later in the movie, this man of few words wisely asks: “How can we understand each other if we don’t communicate?”
Powerful & Memorable Moments in Film With Minimal Activity
To the actors’ credit, they manage to keep scenes with minimal activity interesting. Within the parameters of the farmer’s kitchen, Folke’s tiny trailer and a barn with an ailing horse, the unlikely pair slowly forge a bond of friendship and loyalty. However, simple gestures of sharing favorite foods and drinks–serious study violations–ultimately cost Folke his job.
Some of the most powerful and memorable moments in Kitchen Stories reflect the depth of this new connection. In keeping with this film’s style of minimal dialogue, a birthday celebration simply shows the completely transformed faces of the now happy men. Equally supportive during the sad outcome for the farmer’s ill horse, they share momentary comfort in their exchange of compassionate glances.
With heart-breaking scenes and moments filled with offbeat humor, this film is one to recommend as a completely unique experience.
Questions for Artsphoria’s Online Film Forum
Why do you agree or disagree with this movie review of Kitchen Stories? How did you react to this film, the pace and absence of extensive dialogue? Did you find the movie funny and, if so, why?
Post your comments, and invite fellow film lovers to join Artsphoria’s Online Film Forum. Then, check out more film and arts news on Artsphoria International Magazine.