Enter the chief. Extravagantly dressed in pajamas and bright sweaters, he parades around his village, in this case, his art studio, as his loyal followers listen to and admire his every word. ‘The Man’, Simon is the one that everyone talks about. Enter the lone ranger. Quiet, mysterious, but alert. Simon’s estranged son, Casper, has returned home to spend some time with his father. But Simon doesn’t see it as precious father-son bonding time. Instead, Simon is threatened by Casper’s artistic talent, which is possibly better than Simon’s, as well as Casper’s charming presence over Simon’s loyal followers, who begin to leave the Cult of Simon for different, more modern art forms. As Simon’s followers drop one by one, and his love interest Darling is also smitten with Casper, Simon has to fight for just who ‘The Man’ is.
Screening at this year’s Scandinavian Film Festival in Australia, The Man is a thoroughly enjoyable film written and directed by Charlotte Sieling, who has made a name for herself in the director’s chair with episodes of The Killing, Borgen and The Bridge under her watchful eye. Søren Malling is made for the role of Simon, perfectly embodying his flamboyant but arrogant ways as he struts around his domain. Understated is Jakob Oftebro as Casper, who almost channels Clint Eastwood in his minimal dialogue, rebellious attitude and ever-watching gaze. Ane Dahl Torp‘s Darling feels misused as a character, much of her character embodying the sexually-frustrated woman who is feeling a strong nostalgia for her younger years.
In The Man, we have a classical narrative that is less about emotions and happy endings and more about artistic jealousy and frustration. There is no emotion or bond between the father and son. Instead, we have fierce competition for the battle of ‘the man’. One can’t help but feel like they are watching a classical western in a contemporary Scandinavian form; you can almost see Casper ride in on a horse as he comes to upset Simon’s dominance over the studio. And as with any good western, a standoff is inevitable, and Charlotte Sieling’s contemporary take on a classic element of the genre is well worth seeing.
The Man is screening at this years Scandinavian Film Festival in Australia. For more information, head to the official website.