The town hall of a severely depressed town hires a middleman to deliver news to its citizens, mostly bad.
An adaptation done very right! Adaptations have never been easy. Let alone when two opposite genres are combined. The Middle Man is one of them films that there is no need to scrutinise the way it was made, except for its character and story development. The characters’ passivity matches the story’s steady pace and that can be seen throughout all three acts where there is this tendency for the addresser to state something obvious and the addressee to cynically respond to the obviousness.
Following up on that, The Middle Man expresses thoughts that all of us have had at some point in our lives but never expressed them the way we wanted in fear of how they would have been perceived. There are awkward statements and reactions to those statements that other films would deem nonsensical or indifferent, but not this one. Writer/director Bent Hamer truly comprehends Lars Saabye Christensen’s novel, Sluk 2012, and uses this awkwardness and flatness of human emotion to develop both the characters and the story. It is not often that you watch a film like this. What, I personally, find intriguing in a narrative like this is the level of unpredictability. You can never know where it is going to lead you; where and how the hero’s journey is going to end. To the point that you will philosophise the purpose of the actual nature of the journey. A proper analysis would connect society, the economy (or lack thereof), and the human psyche. In other words, the collapse of the economy, its consequences to society, and, consequently, its effect on the human soul. Ask yourselves this: How can a “dead” town have “alive” citizens? But I’ll leave this up to you.
Excellent job from the cast: Pål Sverre Hagen, Tuva Novotny, Paul Gross, Trond Fausa, and Rossif Sutherland share Hamer’s vision and brilliantly offer you this flatness and awkwardness the narrative requires. Somehow, the narrative might affect you also due to the actual premise. While allegedly taking place in America, the film was shot mostly in Germany and Canada, and Hamer and Hagen are from Norway, and the rest of the cast is from Norway and Canada. The Middle Man is a collaboration amongst these countries, and its effect will last on you way past the end credits. Interestingly, something similar I encountered in the previous film I reviewed, Dual (2022): https://kaygazpro.com/2023/04/25/dual-2022-comedy-drama-sci-fi/
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Solidarity for Ukraine 🇺🇦 🙏
P.S. Gary! This review is definitely for you, mate!