Sing Me To Sleep

Sing Me To Sleep


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Just short of farce, just past whimsy, this is the heartwarming story of a son trying to please his dying mother. Robert is a postal worker, cutting a dash through the Norwegian countryside on his bicycle, Smiths T-shirt on his chest and flowers in his back pocket. Not hugely emotive, nor entirely taciturn, Robert is well played by Jan Devo Kornstad. It's a subtle performance, in a film that's all about little cues, little clues. Given that his previous credits include White Blood Cell that might be surprising, but despite his diffidence Robert is concerned, dutiful, and possessed of a particular cunning.

As his mother, Berit, Jorunn Kjellsby is also excellent, and it's clear that Robert's guile is inherited. When he tells her that he'll bring his girlfriend to meet her there's more than one negotiation taking place, but it's when he goes to collect her that things start to get complicated. You see, lovely as she is, as happy as she makes him, she doesn't quite exist.

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Fortunately Robert has friends. Marit (Kjersti Elvik) would love to help him, but it's clear he hasn't visited her recently; her own pregnancy complicates things, but she's got a friend...

Of course, things don't go quite to plan, until (eventually) it's Ingrid who accompanies him on the ferry to visit his Mother. Played by Andrine Sther she knows she's doing this charming man a favour, but it's only as she spends some time in his company that she comes to know why.

Magnus Arneson writes and directs, or more accurately adapts. As with The Terms it's based on a short story, in this case one by Frode Grytten. Despite the gorgeous scenery and the subtle performances, the text has one advantage in that it could actually have The Smiths on the soundtrack - the fact that they're not on it might be a rights issue, but there is a creative case to be made for it - we're missing something that's important to Robert's identity. Tracks by Morita Makoto and Jack Picket are well used, but it's the acting that really sings.

There's a lot done with a look, a flicker of recognition or realisation. Even Robert's rage is a delicately done thing, a sign of the care and attention that runs throughout Sing Me To Sleep. A brief scene with a colleague and his manager, the ferry trip to the city and back, the bicycle, the flowers, all add meaning, character. It's all finely done, well-crafted, lyric, melancholy without being sad, and with an open ending whose hopefulness is touching.

Reviewed on: 04 Aug 2010
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A man whose elderly mother is ill invents a girlfriend in an attempt to please her.
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Director: Magnus Arnesen

Writer: Magnus Arnesen

Starring: Kjersti Elvik, Jorunn Kjellsby, Andrine Sæther, Jan Devo Kornstad, Sylwia Juszczak, Jon Ketil Johnsen, Kjersti Sandal

Year: 2010

Runtime: 30 minutes

Country: Poland, Norway


EIFF 2010

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