From the Balcony / Fra balkongen

Ole Giæver is a man of contemplation. Wandering and solitary dreaming plays a big part in his films, and in From the Balcony the Norwegian film-maker and young father offers us a soliloquy on the course of life and his most intimate reflections. Ole Giæver presents himself as one minuscule dot in the expanse of time and space. Through his journey, we see a collage of photographs, old home videos, purposely-filmed footage and even animations. We see youth, adolescence, family life, everything that makes up a human being. He reminds us of everyone who has come before us and of our own.

Giæver’s life is marked by routine. He drinks tea on the balcony, he watches football with his friends and plays with his kids. Living in Norway, one of the world’s safest and wealthiest countries, he has very little to be worried about. And yet, Giæver appreciates the stability and simple pleasures of his routine. From the balcony, he longs to go to the most far away point he can see and travel the world but is afraid of ending up in a dangerous country. He lives in Norway and therefore fears nothing, but emotions are non-existent in such a safe place.

If the review is sounding like a mixed bag of scenes and emotions, that’s because that’s what From the Balcony is. The film is a very mixed blend of documentary and fiction; the character is named after the director, and there’s footage from his younger years. There are even scenes where Giæver breaks the fourth wall. So is this all real? Much like his previous films, Giæver is placing himself in front of the camera and letting his thoughts run wild. As his wife says while Giæver is filming himself, “You’re being very self-involved”. And while there is nothing wrong with that, From the Balcony is an existential festival film and not one for the general audience. It’s interesting, but it’s a film suited to essay writing rather than enjoyment. •

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CategoriesIssue 19 Reviews
Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.