Dir. Morten Tyldum. Norway. 2003. 104mins
A feel-good, eminently likeable romp about three young Norwegians in their early 20s struggling through the rites of passage from adolescence to maturity, this feature debut by a director with a solid reputation in commercials should be a welcome addition to the youth-oriented film repertoire the world over. Its only drawbacks, if they can be regarded as such, are a dose of warmth and innocence and a basic decency of behaviour that some audiences may find outmoded compared with similarly-themed Hollywood products. Faithfully supported by a team of young performers, who function perfectly together and deserve most of the credit, Morten Tyldum's promising crowd pleaser could, with the right handling, easily echo the success of Elling, which registered more than 700,000 admissions at home and performed strongly across Europe. Sandrew Metronome releases the film in Norway on Aug 29.
Kristoffer (Broch) and Geir (Hennie), who make their living by hanging billboards all over town, move in with a recluse web designer, Stig Inge (Christiansen), whose meticulously ordained existence begs for some of the chaos his new lodgers are about to bring into his life. While ostensibly out to get as much fun out of life as they can, each one of the three has his own hang-ups, all related to their incapacity to face life as adults.
Kristoffer, the more soulful, worries that accepting the spare keys to his girlfriend's flat is too big a step in their relationship; when he suggests the should wait a little, she drops him for her boss. Geir, the most eccentric, has a chip on his shoulder from an earlier relationship and engages in crazy stunts to prove he will not be tied down. Meanwhile shy, portly Stig-Inge (Christiansen), desperately in need of affection, is terrified of the world outside and has not left his neighbourhood for over two years.
One day, while being chased by an army of security officers, Kristoffer drops some tapes containing his video diaries, filled with off-the-wall observations on life in general. The tapes arrive on the desk of a TV executive, who suggests to Kristoffer they become a regular segment on a popular reality talk show. The show is a success and the three become overnight minor celebrities - but also find their private affairs exposed beyond comfort. Kristoffer, offered a TV development deal, has to chose between his friends and the lucrative career waiting for him just around the corner.
In a heart-warming decision that goes against today's fashionable cynicism, he opts for love and true friendship over career. A thoughtfully manipulated script ties together all the loose ends, ensuring Geir and Stig Inge's future happiness is provided for as well.
Attractively shot, briskly paced and with a lively soundtrack, Buddy is a pleasant, sympathetic experience and never attempts to dig too deeply into any of the issues it raises, be it relationships with parents, careerism or conformism. Instead it points its barbs at targets that are too easy to hit, never staying still long enough to raise doubts or generate criticism against it.
More memorable moments include a surprise birthday party, with all the neighbours, young and old, celebrating together. The young actors, mostly from the stage, are all equally effective, from Broch as the hesitant Kristoffer, who is easily dragged into escapades before thinking them out, to Hennie whose aggressive Geir hides his anxieties behind hyper-active mischief and Christiansen as introvert Stig Inge who constantly invents excuses for his self-imposed seclusion. Meanwhile Pia Tjelta plays the lively girl who at one point invades the bachelor flat and becomes a full-time partner in it.
Prod co: Happy Endings
Int'l sales: Non Stop Sales
Nor dist: Sandrew Metronome
Prods: Gudny Hummelvoll, Knut Jensen
Scr: Lars Gudmestad
Cinematography: John Andreas Andersen
Ed: Eli Nilsen
Music: Lars Lillo-Sternberg
Main cast: Nicolai Cleve Broch, Aksel Hennie, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Pia Tjelta, Janne Formoe