Monday, July 19, 2010

Rooftop Films ’10: The Ape

When movie protagonists constantly have their Bluetooth affixed to their ear, it is always a strong indication they are bad news. Being a driving instructor should probably count as the second strike against Krister. Waking up covered in someone else’s blood pretty much seals our of impression of the disturbed Swede, but director Jesper Ganslandt offers plenty more disturbing evidence in The Ape (trailer here), which screens this Friday at Brooklyn Tech as part of Rooftop Film’s summer season.

Krister is having a bad day. After waking up in the bathroom smeared in blood, he bikes over to the garage to pick-up his car. Late for his first appointment, he bickers with his co-workers and inappropriately yells at a student. Then he takes in a quick game of tennis. Something is not right here. Though Ganslandt never explicitly spells it out, it becomes increasingly obvious as the film follows Krister on his erratic path.

It is hard to discuss The Ape without giving too much away, though most viewers should have a bead on what is going on by the halfway point, at least. It is an icy cold film (even by Scandinavian standards) that never makes concessions to the audience. Ganslandt refuses delve into Krister’s psyche, only showing his surface reserve. As a result, he never invites sympathy or understanding for what we surmise he has done, presenting it all rather matter-of-factly.

As Krister, Olle Sarri is in every scene, but Ganslandt often shows obliquely him from odd angles, again deliberately discouraging attempts to bond with the character. Still, we see enough of Sarri to be chilled by his intensity. Yes, his character could be considered the titular ape, but that title also seems to refer to the film’s overwritten final exchange. It might be Ganslandt’s only misstep of the film, though it is certainly possible it plays better in Swedish.

Grimly realistic and tightly edited by the director, The Ape is an unsettlingly effective portrait of the banality of evil. However, the subtle ways Gansladt reveals his horrors might not be best suited for outdoor presentations. Regardless, that is how it will have its New York premiere Friday night (7/23). Tickets are available on Rooftop Film’s website, but if you saw Winnebago Man in theaters, bring your stub and get into any remaining Rooftop screening this summer for free.