|'Often feels more like a collection of sketches or live-action comic strips starring the same characters than a continuous narrative'.|
Had the Coen Brothers ever opted to remake a foreign film for the English-speaking market, you can imagine that Eggs would almost certainly have sat somewhere near the top of their list of choices. The fact that the main characters are also a pair of eccentric brothers is purely coincidental; originally released in 1995, the film in many ways bears a striking resemblance to the output of Ethan and Joel during the same period. Writer and director Bent Hamer's focus during his debut feature is never storytelling, concentrating instead on building uncannily comedic characters and situations with which to fill his film.
It's an approach which makes Eggs a consistently amusing experience. From the opening shot of elderly brothers Dad (Kjell Stormoen) and Moe (Sverre Hansen) descending their impractically quirky staircase to begin their daily routine of listening to the radio together, completing the crossword together and being affectionately cantankerous towards each other, you'll find yourself watching Hamer's film with a broad grin across your face. The director is perfectly happy to allow his film to move at a leisurely pace, a decision which works particularly well during the opening segment introducing Dad and Moe, giving plenty of room for the audience to warm to the characters and their idiosyncrasies. Eggs often feels more like a collection of sketches or live-action comic strips starring the same characters than a continuous narrative. A sequence in which Moe repeatedly interrupts Dad to ask him about taking their Christmas tree down during an inopportune moment is a particularly good - and particuarly funny - example.
The brothers' interaction with the various people who arrive at their remote Norwegian home is also fun to watch, affording Hamer plenty of opportunities to present even more offbeat characters and activities. The arrival of an equally unusual pair of friends - one in a full head brace - leads to some memorable exchanges, as well as a challenger for the most unusual game of ping-pong you're likely to see on screen. Elements such as Dad and Moe gleefully watching their attractive housekeeper Cylindia (Juni Dahr) clean the living room from the comfort of their sofa now feel somewhat dated in a Carry On sort of way, but the humour is both so gentle and so daft that moments such as these are easy to forgive.
Where Hamer is less successful is in his handling of Konrad (Leif Andrée), Dad's wheelchair-bound adult son who arrives to disrupt the brothers' happy existence, as it is here where the director's laidback approach to narrative comes back to bite him. After Konrad's arrival, very little actually changes between Dad and Moe despite Konrad's peculiar behaviour and Moe's occasional suspicions of him. When matters are eventually brought to a head, Hamer rushes through a great deal in a short amount of time, rendering the film's climax somewhat bewildering as it arrives almost out of nowhere. The director fumbles the balance between subtlety and transparency, and Eggs concludes on an uncharacteristically bum note as a result.
The 30th Leeds International Film Festival runs from 3rd-17th November 2016 at thirty venues across the city, including Hyde Park Picture House and Leeds Town Hall. Tickets and more information are available via the official LIFF website.