Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Next Door (aka Naboer) (2005)

Some doors should never be opened...

John (Kristoffer Joner) and his long-time girlfriend Ingrid (Anna Bache-Wiig) have recently broken up and the break-up has left John vulnerable and broken-hearted. One day, his neighbor, Anne (Cecilie Mosli), asks him for a hand in moving some furniture in her apartment. It seems that her roommate Kim (Julia Schacht) was assaulted and now insists that a large armoire be moved in the front of the door. The women know of John's split with Ingrid, saying they heard everything through the wall, which makes John feel very uncomfortable. The next day he is asked by Anne to watch Kim while she runs some errands. John begrudgingly agrees but soon finds himself locked in the large and labyrinth-like apartment with Kim. He is continually drawn to the two women, who seem to know a disturbing secret from his past...

This brutal Norwegian flick plays beautifully and disturbingly from beginning to end. Though John seems like a normal, albeit heartbroken guy, we soon learn that he may like things a bit rough and kinky.After a tryst with Kim in which both she and John repeatedly punch, claw and violently fuck each other, John returns to his tidy apartment, only to be shocked at the amount of blood covering his shirt and face. Through some moments of déjà vu and flashbacks, we see that John has a sadomasochistic side which contributed to Ingrid’s split from him for another man.

Overall, I was quite impressed with this nasty little film from its story to the cinematography to the wonderful acting. Though I felt it was somewhat predictable, it still had me guessing up to the shocking ending.

The story, written by director Pal Sletaune, was well-written, emulating a Hitchcock style with a twist of Polanski’s The Tenant thrown in for good measure. It’s one of those is-this-all-real mysteries that, like I said before, had me guessing up to the end. The cinematography, along with the set design, was wonderful and I appreciated and enjoyed the visual cues that director Pal Sletaune employed. The film mostly takes place in only two locations, one being John’s apartment and the other being Anne and Kim’s place. The contrast between John’s bright, airy and organized apartment and Anne and Kim’s dark, cavernous and messy one is quite symbolic for the state of affairs but also adds to the growing dread as the film progresses.

The acting, especially by Joner, was extremely well-done. Joner captures John’s loneliness and isolation in the beginning of the film, which progress into confusion, anger and disorientation as the film continues. The three women in the film, Mosli as Anne, Schacht as Kim and Bache-Wiig as Ingrid, all do a stunning job in their respective roles. Mosli and Schacht play especially well as the manipulating and seductive next door neighbors.

Clocking in at a short 75 minutes, Next Door is chock full of violent eroticism, psychological mind games and sordid pasts. I highly recommend this film for people who enjoy films that question a character’s reality, such as Memento, The Machinist, The Tenant or Hitchcock films.

Order it on Amazon!

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