The House of Norway: Spoiler Review

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Poster for the film The House of Norway

🇳🇴 THE HOUSE OF NORWAY 🇳🇴

The House of Norway aka Det norske hus (2017) is a Norwegian comedy/drama on Netflix U.K. 1 hour 16 minutes in length. Norwegian, Farsi and English with English subtitles. Rated 12 UK.

Premise:

“A Persian refugee comes to Norway seeking asylum, and winds up at a quirky, secluded academy where he must pass a series of tests in order to stay.” IMDb

Cast:


Ali Djabbari
Peter Drabløs as SP-bonde
Gard B. Eidsvold as Oddleiv
Sven Henriksen as Siw
Shahrukh Kavousi as Ramin
Bent Lund as Grenselos
Knut Nærum as Sverdrup
Ingeborg Raustøl as Huldra
Hege Schøyen as Bodil
Trygve Svindland as Per
Helén Vikstvedt as Bergljot

Crew:


Writer: Jan Verdoen
Director: Jan Verdoen
Composer: Jan Verdoen, Edvard Grieg
Cinematographers: Martin Otterbeck, Nico Poulsson
Editor: Skjalg Molvaer

Location:

Hotell Øye, Geiranger, Norway

⚠️ May contain some spoilers ⚠️

Review:

This little film (it’s only an hour and a quarter long) doesn’t have a great IMDb score but I never take much notice of middling IMDb scores; they certainly don’t put me off watching a film. Was this worth my time? Well, happily enough, I feel it was (all 76 minutes).

All comedy is a social construct whether it be slapstick or, in this case, parody or satire. It is also true that comedy and tragedy are close bedfellows and if you cannot see how close they are in this film there’s something wrong.

So, comedy very much plays upon social and cultural norms, expectations, stereotypes, prejudices and expectations, usually by subverting them. This film does precisely that. Now, it’s also true that a comedy based upon Norwegian “cultural values” and specific issues around acceptance of people applying to settle there from other countries (through asylum etc.) might not land all of its jokes when viewed by someone who, like myself, is not Norwegian and who has never lived there. That said, I laughed like a drain at some of these scenes!

The thing with applying for settled status in many countries (not just Norway) is that often the formal tests that people face are bordering on farcical and these are ripe pickings for a comedy, that’s there to make a serious point, such as this.

That the main character, an Iranian, is given a traditional Nordic sweater to wear early on is telling. All the applicants in the Academy wear such sweaters while none of the Norwegians does… He visits Q (yes, Q like in James Bond) for his “equipment” at the start which includes Norwegian staples (even as an outsider I got this).

There are a series of tests (hoops if you like) that he had to jump through, never knowing the whys or wherefores. As the long-term failed settlement seeker (also Iranian) tells him “There is no logic”. From cross-country skiing to making open sandwiches it is all a mystery.

One of the funniest scenes in The House of Norway is his visiting hut after hut trying to get the right papers and certificates to proceed with his application. And this is after the tribulations of even getting through the door of the Academy. At no point is he asked what he can do, what his profession is or what he can offer the country where he wants to settle. He is treated as if he is ignorant, somewhat stupid (or a child) and is given mundane or demeaning tasks to do.

One part however that made me laugh really hard is when it is revealed to him that he had got completely plastered the night before and wreaked absolute havoc around the academy. Comedic genius! And oh, so true. The thing with this film is that it is definitely applicable outside of Norway!

Just to touch on the aesthetics of this film I loved the opening and closing credit sequences. The fjord and mountains are stunning and the use of Edvard Grieg’s music is perfect. Be sure to watch all of the end credits though because there is a VERY important caption!

This is not a stupendous film but I did laugh a lot, it also raised a tear or two and I think it successfully does what it sets out to do. It might well be very uncomfortable viewing for some.

Awards 1 Nomination:

Fabrique du Cinéma Awards (2017) ~ Best International Feature Film

Trailer:

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