Review: Sick of Myself

Written and directed by Kristoffer Borgli, increasingly overshadowed by her boyfriend’s recent rise to fame as a contemporary artist creating sculptures from stolen furniture, Signe hatches a vicious plan to reclaim her rightfully deserved attention within the milieu of Oslo’s cultural elite. Starring: Kristine Kujath Thorp, Eirik Sæther, Fanny Vaager, Sarah Francesca Brænne, Fredrik Stenberg Ditlev-Simonse and Steinar Klouman Hallert.

When we live in such a vain, self-obsessed and attention hungry world, Sick of Myself is a fantastic representation of that toxicity. It’s a narcissist’s delight, embracing the slippery slope from envy, jealousy and entitlement to self-destruction and alienation. It’s another form of addiction, getting a taste of genuine sympathy and interest then being unable to stop yourself from doing whatever it takes to keep that coming. The route which this film takes to explore that is sharp, extreme and at times, intensely awkward. The need for attention is so overwhelming and unrelatable that it can become hard to watch, and it’s conflicting because there’s benefits and disadvantages to that. The further it digs into that hole it opens a question of whether it’s harshly real or it’s pushing too hard.

However, one of the elements which it unquestionably gets points for is that it is genuinely unpredictable. That’s not something overly common in today’s cinema so it’s always a nice change of pace. It follows a clear path but at the same time it adds in a few tangents which dip their toes into horror, it intensifies the experience and at the same time pulls through a fascinatingly dark sense of humour. Kristoffer Borgli’s direction has a keen sense for modern drama, there’s a great sharpness and stylish edge to the aesthetic. Borgli brings his characters’ vanity into the fold with the visual but at the same time never gets distracted by trying too hard or over stylising the film. It feels slightly contradictory to say it’s grounded when it is such an overt story but Borgli easily holds onto a very real feel, even when he’s playing with the imagination.

The extent to which Kristine Kujath Thorp and Eirik Sæther bring to life the toxicity and narcissism of this story is wonderous. It shows how successful their performances are in how succinctly they can drive you mad with their unendingly competitive, undermining and manipulative behaviour. Kristine Kujath Thorp brings that quality of a lead who you don’t have to even like in the slightest but you can’t help but need to see what she does next. She creates such a wide variety of potential for insane behaviour that you can’t predict what she’ll do. Providing this cold, black heart to the film and creating an atmosphere of untrustworthiness, where you can never guess if there genuinely is a vulnerable place hidden beneath or each layer is just another act.

Sick of Myself is the type of film that redefines a love-hate relationship, you can absolutely hate the characters and be tortured by their selfish, manipulative natures but love the style and creativity of the way Kristoffer Borgli tells their story. Kristine Kujath Thorp and Eirik Sæther’s performances will bury beneath your skin and stab at your frustration with how deep they’re willing to go for attention and how unaware of their toxicity they are. It’s realistic yet there’s a touch of the surreal to it as Borgli plays around with the lines of reality and dream. By doing so he takes an already fascinatingly narcissistic story and adds a horror, thriller touch to pull you in even further.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10

Reviewed as part of London Film Festival 2022

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