The Art of Negative Thinking / Kunsten å tenke negativt (2007) Film Review


A cute, happy, dysfunctional cast!

I’ve come to take quite a liking to black comedies that come out of the Nordic countries. They often focus on untraditional subject matters and have underlying social commentaries; in the case of The Art of Negative Thinking, the focus is on disabled people — a demographic that is usually never made light of in American culture, which regards disabled individuals as practically helpless.

Those who have personal experience with disabled people or are particularly sensitive to the subject might find this movie to be callous and cruel. But that would be a simplified view on the subject. The movie does not set out to make fun of the disabled. The characters in the movie are unique individuals, each with their own mental and physical dysfunctions. Despite whatever quirks they have, they react to crisis in ways that any human being off the street might. The scenes that are hilarious are not hilarious because they contain disabled people; they are hilarious because they are studies on human emotion that take unexpected turns.

It seems at times like the characters are acting irrationally or intensely, making it easy to generalize that the movie is making a mockery of the disabled. But what’s important to note is that the three non-disabled characters in the movie act just as irrationally as the disabled ones do. If anything, the movie almost sets out to prove that the playing field is level, and that everyone has a little bit of crazy in them.

Director:
Bård Breien

Producer:
Dag Alveberg

Editor:

Zaklinka Stojevska

Screenwriter:

Bård Breien

Cinematographer:

Gaute Gunnari

Music:

Stein Berge Svendsen

Principal Cast:

Fridtjov Såheim, Kirsti Eline Torhaug, Henrik Mestad, Marian Saastad Ottesen, Kari Simonsen, Per Schaaning, Kjersti Holmen

Language:
Norweigan

Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

Vee has two narrative short films. Searching Skies (2017) touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States; with it, they helped co-organize The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. Reckless Spirits (2022) is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature-length project.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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Written by Vee Hua 華婷婷
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