By: Addison Wylie
The metric system has never been more sexy or sentimental than it is in Bent Hamer’s 1001 Grams. Now that I have your attention, let’s move towards some of the drier details.
Marie (played by Ane Dahl Torp) is a Norwegian scientist who is close with her intellect father Ernst Ernst (played by Stein Winge). Both of their careers circulate around the analysis of measurements, and they both discuss work during their smoke breaks down an extremely narrow opening outside. Ernst is invited to a seminar that analyses the weight of a kilo, but the respected scientist is unable to attend. With Ernst bedridden, Marie travels to the exclusive seminar and is forced to deal with unexpected turns that have her realizing how self-contained her life really is.
The seminar is a neat treat for the audience despite it consisting of material that would be otherwise inaccessible. The other guests are an elite crowd who treat their work seriously. More robust films would poke fun at the sobering attitudes, but Hamer treats the philosophical characters with respect and uses particular framing techniques within the terrific cinematography to make droll observations about how cult-like the gathers are. Our attention is captured as we watch these eager geniuses handle delicate examples with care.
Marie is left on her own to deal with unpredictable outcomes and consequences while on her trip. Torp is fantastic at portraying her uptight professionalism, but her performance becomes more interesting as she is inspired by others. When Pi enters the picture (a handy gardener played by Laurent Stocker), the budding romantic chemistry has Marie feeling lucky – the audience is all smiles. When Marie slowly attains knowledge of how lonely she really is, Dahl Torp makes us empathize, and just as easily has us feeling refreshed when Marie starts regaining her empowerment.
Hamer’s 1001 Grams was Norwegian’s submission for ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ at the 87th Academy Awards, but was shut out along with Mundruczó’s masterful White God. Even though it was a tough race (Pawlikowski’s Ida snagged the top prize), it’s still quite a shock to see 1001 Grams didn’t even get a nomination. Hamer’s take on romance and rediscovered love is, at least, deserving of that.