Kitchen Stories Bent Hamer

If the idea of two old Scandinavian gents slowly getting to know each other in the guise of a scientific experiment (ah, but on who!) sounds like just the kind of quirky, heartwarming film you're looking for, Kitchen Stories is your jar of herring. This third movie from Norwegian director Bent Hamer is a mostly silent, mostly predictable tale of a reclusive old man, Isak (Calmeyer), who has reluctantly agreed to participate in a study to observe his habits in the kitchen. This premise is heavy-handedly "based" on a real historical Swedish experiment about how women maneuver in a kitchen, but it is used so awkwardly here that it becomes almost instantly a throwaway device. Isak's observer, Folke (Tomas Norstrom), suffers through a litany of his subject's silent hostilities until Isak eventually thaws and the experiment flips around and Folke becomes the one on trial, attempting not to ruin the experiment by becoming a part of Isak's household. Beautifully shot and guided with a gentle hand, Kitchen Stories disappoints despite promising elements; it's simply too straightforward, too tidy and too cloyingly scored to enjoy as the subtle piece one hopes Hamer was trying to make. An enjoyable enough movie that will attract The Station Agent crowd — everyone loves a couple of lovable misfits! — Kitchen Stories is uninspired overall. Except for those ice sleds, love those. (Seville)