Scandinavian 2015 Review: In HERE IS HAROLD, Ikea Looms Over Blackly Comic Trauma

Editor; Australia (@Kwenton)
Scandinavian 2015 Review: In HERE IS HAROLD, Ikea Looms Over Blackly Comic Trauma
Here Is Harold kicked off the Scandinavian Film Festival last night in typically dour, dark and chillingly humorous style; muted comedy peaked through a very basic tale of revenge stemming from the wrong place.

Harold (Bjørn Sundquist) has lost everything; his family furniture store, his money, and his wife soon after. In the increasingly grim surroundings of his life Harold finds purpose and drive in avenging his sorry state of affairs. It all started of course when a giant Ikea store opened opposite his humble furniture shop in Norway. Thinking he can weather the changes six months passes and unfortunately capitalism wins, as does common sense, with most consumers wanting to buy things for the moment, not something that will last forever; a reminder of a life once lived still sitting in their living rooms. Harold of course cannot fathom this and when tragedy does strike it is sad for a moment, only to become, thankfully, quite funny and odd instead.
He snaps and decides Ikea is at fault for the mess on his life, so he must take action and kidnap its founder Ingvar Kamprad, setting out on a crazy road trip filled with odd characters that enter his life, changing him for the better in a natural and subtle way.

Nothing is so obvious, over-stated or direct with Scandi cinema generally and Here Is Harold is no exception. The film takes its time to build to the point of rebuilding, but before it does there are some truly stand-out moments. Harold's ex-journalist son Jan (Vidar Magnussen) is a total louse. While he visits him Harold finds the ideal time to tell him about his mother but fails to do so, instead noticing his house is filled with Ikea products. He checks each one, personally failing his test of quality "crap, crap, crap".
When he does get on the road towards Sweden he encounters the cool, but troubled Ebba (Fanny Ketter), a teenager with problems of her own, but one willing to help Harold on his absurd quest. A few very funny stumbles, an interesting use of bubble wrap, and sometime later, an hilarious chance encounter leads Harold to the eccentric, stubborn and bored Ikea founder who is hands-down the highlight of the film.

Ingvar Kamprad is played masterfully by actor Björn Granath, and is something akin to a downbeat Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm. His age, values and observations are effortlessly hilarious components of his character, strangely haunted by some questionable decisions in his past, Ingvar is ultimately a pragmatist first and a human being second and his life-values reveal all he has given up for to maintain Ikea's creed. When placed in a kidnapping scenario then, Kamprad is far from your typical victim, reacting hilariously to both Harold and Ebba. When all is said and done though, there is a melancholic lesson learnt from this experience; for both Harold and Kamprad.

Here Is Harold's road trip aspects are bolstered significantly by the stunning austere and relentless snow and sleet filled backdrops. It is constantly snowing and blanketed in white and most scenes are filmed medium or long-distance to that effect.

The film does not contain gut-busting laughs, this is not the aim of Scandi cinema, the humour is more reflective and off-kilter, and it works as a slow burn, laughter you can find later when thinking about it again; laughing at the human condition and the fallacy of man, not slapstick comedy or obvious jokes. In doing so the film carries a serious message under the layer of humour, musing on many aspects of Norwegian and Swedish society, but returning to the core fundamentals of family; an issue the film gently exposes and explores with warm but black comedy.

Here Is Harold is playing as part of the Scandinavian Film Festival Australia-wide. Check the website for more information and session times.

Here Is Harold

  • Gunnar Vikene
  • Gunnar Vikene
  • Bjørn Sundquist
  • Fanny Ketter
  • Björn Granath
  • Grethe Selius
Screen Anarchy logo
Do you feel this content is inappropriate or infringes upon your rights? Click here to report it, or see our DMCA policy.
AustraliaHer er HaroldHere Is HaroldNorwayPalace CinemaRevengeScandinavian Film FestivalSwedenGunnar VikeneBjørn SundquistFanny KetterBjörn GranathGrethe SeliusComedyDrama

More from Around the Web

Around the Internet