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JUNK MAIL

SYNOPSIS:
Roy the mailman (Robert Skjæs ) is one of the invisible, the unlucky and the insignificant. He is also his own worst enemy, a wreck of a love starved man in the wrong place at the wrong time. He has no compunction about intruding into other people’s flats and lives, suffers from an acute lack of professional ethics, and lives in a dump. One day, a young woman, Line (Andrine Sæther) leaves her keys in her mailbox, a temptation too great for Roy. Once inside, he peeps and picks into everything, even follows her – and gets involved in something more than her mail.

"Quirky with a sprinkling of wry humour, Junk Mail is a character driven film, whose off-beat people engage us in a journey of intrigue, as we stumble through the underbelly of urban Norwegian life. Pål Sletaune has captured the dark side of that life, as he explores the various shades of its characters. The postmen in Norway don’t dress in the distinctive bright fluoro shades that our Aussie posties do; Roy (Robert Skjaestad is wonderfully dry and understated) looks a bit of a dag, with a holy shirt and a bad attitude. His own life is so dull that he wants to know about other people’s: he is a sticky beak, checking out other people’s mail, and delighting in discovering what people eat, drink, and he even tries out their sleeping pills! He is actually a lost person with no purpose. That is, until he meets Line (Andrine Sæther is terrific), and suddenly the direction on his compass is set. While the strength of Junk Mail is its off-beat approach, there’s also an appealing poignancy, which stems from the issue of loneliness and the positive influence the right person can make. It’s a comic excursion into a world every character is odd and flawed, yet somehow engaging. The understated script is reflected in the look of the film, the distorted view of the world and the people in it."
Louise Keller

"The characters in Junk mail are a miserable lot, but in that ordinary way that many European urban dwellers have become, yet with a uniqueness that endears us to them. They defend their lives, their personalities (however imperfect) at all costs. To them, after all, their lives are special. Sletaune’s strength is in building these characters for us, economically yet with a complexity that grows with each new layer, each new insight. He says in his notes to the film that "the film’s logic is the logic of coincidence and characters don’t plan their lives more than a couple of minutes ahead". This, to me, is the key to the film’s enjoyable unpredictably. The characterisations and, ironically, the story structure, give the film a depth, a haunting echo in the subsconscious. And the love story emerges from the grey mist of inadvertent meetings and a critical subplot about a robbery. In short, Junk Mail is wryly amusing, satisfying and rewarding in a way you don’t expect from what is essentially a black comedy. But then good black comedies mirror life with considerable authenticity."
Andrew L. Urban

"We all have an idealised view of the postman, often immortalised on film through the ages as trustworthy, reliable, honest and courteous. OK, forget all that, and welcome to the savagely dark and unpredictable world of Junk Mail, a quite brilliant and remarkable first feature by Norway's Pal Sletaune. This is not a film about an especially likeable character. Roy, the local postie, is a bit of a schmuck, you might say, the proverbial loser who lives in hideous surroundings, throws out half the mail he purports to deliver and reads the other half. Of course, for a film to be successful, you need a character that with whom we can empathise, so the skill of this script by director Sletaune and his collaborator Jonny Halbert, is to create sympathy for such a character. Theirs is a film about loneliness, yet it is curiously optimistic, through the unexpected relationship between Roy and the deaf Line, a relationship which inadvertently turns Roy into something of a human being. Dark, funny and fascinating, Junk Mail is an intelligent and provocative work, brazenly original and disturbingly compelling. Featuring a superb performance by Robert Skjaerstad as the hapless Roy, sharp camerawork that heightens the film's realistic milieu., Junk Mail is one of the freshest and most unique films of the year with a character you'll never forget in a hurry."
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Positive: 3
Negative: 0
Mixed: 0
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See Paul Fischer's interview with director PAL SLETAUNE

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JUNK MAIL (M)
(Norway)

CAST: Robert Skjæs, Andrine Sæther, Per Egil Aske, Eli Anne Linnestad, Trond Hovik, Henriette Steenstrup, Trond Fausa Aurvåg, Ådne Olav Sekkelsten

DIRECTOR: Pål Sletaune

PRODUCER: Dag Nordahl

SCRIPT: Pål Sletaune, Jonny Halberg

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Kjell Vassdal

EDITOR: Pål Gengenbach

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Karl Juliusson

RUNNING TIME: 83 minutes

 

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Dendy

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 9, 1998

Norwegian with English subtitles.

AWARDS: Best Film, La Semaine de Critique, Cannes; Grand Prix of the Jury, Napoli Film Festival, Italy; Best Film, Best Female Actor, Best Male Actor, Norwegian Film Festival; Best Director Silver Spur, Flanders International Film Festival, Ghent







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