Sick of Myself (2022) ☆☆☆(3/4): A morbid comedy of narcissism

Norwegian film “Sick of Myself” will often make you cringe and wince for good reasons. Here is one narcissistic lass willing to go all the way for getting more attention from others, and the movie follows her pathological behaviors with detached humor and fascination while also gradually immersing itself in her increasingly warped viewpoint.

At the beginning, the movie quickly establishes the unhealthy relationship between Signe (Kristine Kujath Thorp) and her artist boyfriend Thomas (Eirik Sæther), who has a bad habit for creating his artworks. He usually steals one furniture after another just because he needs them for his artistic activities, and this unwholesome habit of his is continued even when he later comes to draw lots of attention as a new emerging artist in the town.

While Thomas is enjoying all the attentions he has received, Signe has just stood by him without much to do, but then something happens to her on one day. When she is working at a local bakery as usual, a horrible incident occurs right in front of the bakery, and she finds herself enjoying lots of attention as she later talks about the incident to others around her. After virtually addicted to feeling like being at the center of the world, she goes further for that, and there is a little amusing scene where she casually lies that she has a certain kind of allergy and then pretends to have a serious allergic reaction in front of her boyfriend and others.

As Thomas, who does deserve her considering how he is as narcissistic as his girlfriend, is just annoyed with her attention-seeking behaviors, Signe eventually decides to do something much more drastic than before. After learning about a certain Russian drug with serious side effects, she instantly obtains that drug in question via a young drug dealer who is your average pathetic momma’s boy, and then she soon gets what she wants. As showing a very serious medical symptom, she naturally draws much more attention than before, and she continues to make her medical condition worse and worse because, well, she is still craving for more attention from others including her doctors and her friends.

The most humorous moment in the film comes from when Signe is later transferred to a medical facility recommended by her mother. During her stay, she joins a group meeting attended by various patients not so different from her in terms of attitude and behavior, and we get more laughs as their counselor sincerely tries to help them while quite oblivious to how morbid and twisted his patients really are.

Although it seems that her medical condition is quite irrevocable, Signe is more excited when she subsequently gets an unlikely chance to pursue a modeling career. She is approached by a modeling agency interested in damaged or deformed people in the name of inclusion, and she does not hesitate to say yes as proudly showing off her medical condition as before.

However, things begin to get really worse for Signe in the meantime. It looks like that drug has more side effects than she thought at first, and her health condition becomes more deteriorated than she wants. In addition, as craving for lots of attention as much as her, Thomas becomes a lot pettier than before, and that certainly puts more strain on their problematic relationship.

Steadily maintaining its detached attitude as usual, the screenplay by director/writer/editor Kristoffer Borgli often has a fun with its heroine’s deluded state of mind. We are frequently caught off guard as a number of certain scenes turn out to be dream or delusion, and we even come to wonder whether Signe’s worsening condition later in the story is actually a part of another attention-seeking behavior of hers. As she goes deeper to the bottom of her madness and delusion, we naturally become more disgusted with her pathological behaviors, but she remains as a compelling cast study to observe from the distance, and we continue to watch her as more interested in how far she will really go in the end.

The movie depends a lot on Kristine Kujath Thorp, who is thoroughly uncompromising in her vicious comic performance. We do not feel that sorry for Signe even when everything is inevitably crashing down upon her later in the film, but Thorp ably conveys to us what makes her character tick, and we come to have some pity and understanding on Signe even during her most pathetic moments in the movie. On the opposite, Eirik Sæther is suitably obnoxious as Signe’s equally self-absorbed boyfriend, and several supporting performers including Fanny Vaager, Andrea Bræin Hovig, and Henrik Mestad are also effective in their small but substantial parts (You may also enjoy the cameo appearance of Anders Danielsen Lie, who was excellent in Oscar-nominated Norwegian film “The Worst Person in the World” (2021)).

On the whole, “Sick of Myself”, which was recently released in South Korea as “Hashtag Signe”, is certainly not something you can casually watch on Sunday afternoon, but I enjoyed how it handles its many uncomfortable moments with acerbic wit and sharp insight. The movie willingly tackles some unpleasant sides of human nature for generating some dark laughs, and you may go along with that even though you become quite disturbed from time to time.

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