Sick of Myself (2023 Boston Underground)

When we first meet coffee shop manager Signe (Kristine Kujath Thorp, "The Burning Sea") and her live-in artist boyfriend Thomas (Eirik Sæther)   they appear to be celebrating her birthday at an upscale Oslo restaurant.  But after Thomas orders a $2,300 bottle of wine their intent becomes clear when she takes a call outside and he then speeds past, their waiter in pursuit.  When his stolen furniture sculptures land him a magazine cover, the unhealthy competitiveness of their relationship becomes increasingly apparent when there is nothing Signe will not do to turn attention her way in “Sick of Myself.”

Laura's Review: B

If “Triangle of Sadness’s” Ruben Östlund remade “The Worst Person in the World” as a pitch black satire, he’d have come up with something like ‘Sick of Myself,” a film that skewers the modern day fame seeker’s desire to go viral along with the occasional jab at political correctness.  For Signe, an inveterate liar, the problem appears to be a case of poor self esteem mixed with a raging case of one upmanship against her boyfriend.  If only writer/director Kristoffer Borgli had figured out a plausible reason for Signe and Thomas to even be together in the first place he might have achieved classic status, but as it is he’s made a very funny film with few holds barred.

After nabbing the wine, the couple attends a party with friends who all seem to admire Thomas’s stunt and other than that, things seem normal.  Then one bright and sunny day, a woman is viciously attacked by a Rottweiler on the street outside Signe’s café.  She stumbles in bleeding profusely from the throat as café patrons scatter in terror, but Signe goes right to the woman’s aid, staunching the bleeding.  Emergency responders tell her she probably saved the woman’s life.  Somewhat in shock, she wanders home, her white café jacket stained crimson and gathering stares, but when she enters the apartment and Thomas fails to turn around to greet her, she clears her throat and when he panics at the sight of her, she professes to not know if any of the blood is her own.  Something has shifted after that moment of heroic action.

Two weeks later, Thomas will express annoyance when Signe is still telling the tale to friends over coffee, instead shifting the conversation to his upcoming gallery show, a first for him.  And so begins the battle, one which will find Signe pretending to react to a life threatening allergy at her boyfriend’s banquet, then both disfiguring herself and causing herself bodily harm by ingesting an illegal Russian drug called Lidexol after his magazine feature as Thomas alternates between derision and concern.          

Borgli ups the ante, segueing into Signe’s fantastical reveries imagining herself turning her exploits into a best selling memoir or becoming a famous model, the latter occurring when modeling agent Lisa (Andrea Bræin Hovig, "Hope") hopes to capitalize on acceptance by making deformity fashionable (her only client, Frida (Sophia Leeber), suffers from a birth defect) while virtue signaling with a blind assistant Nora (Frida Natland) she assigns impossible tasks.  He’s also written some hilarious dialogue, Signe complaining as Thomas wheels her out of the hospital that her stay only garnered ‘56 text messages and a few visits.’

Kristine Kujath Thorp is the star of this show and the actress conveys a lot with stealthy looks and aggrieved delivery.  Hers is a physical performance too, the drugs affecting her ability to walk, her faux inability to swallow comic punctuation.

Occasionally Borgli confuses alternating between his narrative and his fantasy elements, but he never lets up on the laughs.  “Sick of Myself” is a sick and twisted original.

Robin's Review: B

Utopia has not yet set a release date for “Sick of Myself.”  It is previewing in the 2023 Boston Underground Film Festival – check the schedule here.