> Volume 6 > Number 19


Bent Hamer

Joachim Calmeyer
Tomas Norström
Bjørn Floberg

Release: 20 Feb. 04

Kitchen Stories


“How can we understand each other if we don’t communicate?” says a Swedish scientist sent to observe the kitchen of a lonely bachelor in rural Norway. Studies have already been done on the Swedish housewife to find the map of the day-to-day rituals in the kitchen in hopes of discovering a way to create the most ergonomic kitchen layout, now they imagine that the same is needed for those ragged Norwegians across the border, so unkempt that most are surely lifelong bachelors.

Kitchen Stories is Aki Kaurismäki-lite. There’s an absurd, bleakly comic tenor to all this, which is definitely what’s needed for a tale that seems so implausible, that it’s reality (the Swedish Home Research Institute really did these studies in the 1950s) comes as a shock. Though this never reaches the levels of genius Kaurismäki’s found, this is a likable slight film.

The progression of friendship the film details, as one of the scientists, perched up on a chair like a tennis umpire, begins to care for his subject, is charming, and the bluntness with which director Bent Hamer (born in Norway, educated in Sweden) keeps this from having the saccharine delicateness that it might have had in a “serious” American version. In that story, of course, the scientist would be a woman, and her final decision on the study would be that sex on the countertop is key to the happy, healthy kitchen lifestyle. I imagine Brittany Murphy playing the scientist and Luke Wilson as the subject

©2004, David Perry,, 7 May 2004