Finding Hygge explores the Danish concept of hygge, which a quick Google search tells me has to do with comfort, wellness, and happiness. I was forced to Google, because at no point in this ninety-minute long documentary is the concept distilled or defined in a coherent manner.
There is disagreement about what exactly constitutes hygge as a practice. The film interviews several people who have embraced the loosely defined lifestyle (one wonders if it can even be called that) to different ends. All of the subjects espouse sunnier looks on life than most, a jarring thing to witness in such cynical times. But each subject also evidently comes from a life of privilege, with all subjects being conventionally attractive, Caucasian, and wealthy. Whatever hygge really is, it is only attainable by the select few who can shrug off the perils of the world as someone else’s problem.
The subjects occasionally gesture towards geopolitical crises and their causes, but most tend to gravitate to the well-rehearsed criticism of technology–social media, in particular–as a significant contribution to global issues. Social media is the reason for Donald Trump’s election, one hygge practitioner claims, rather than the complicated web of social, political, and cultural factors that have contributed to the rise and dominance of right-wing populism in the West.
While it’s easy to take issue with the subjects and their (relatively limited) concerns, the film itself doesn’t offer much in the way of interest. It’s hard to sustain much interest in what the subjects have to say, and aside from a brief animated sequence, there is hardly any visual novelty present in the film. Aesthetically, the film may as well be a Discovery Channel documentary.
I can’t recommend this film to anyone, unless you have the social, political, and cultural mobility to ignore the plights of the world, or have a vested interest in self-help books. Those who are unfamiliar with hygge likely have more pressing concerns on their mind.
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Mark Barber: @WorstCinephile