“Death is an express train from the future.”
Norwegian film Monster Thursday from director Arild Ostin Ommundsen begins with the Hawaiian-surfer themed wedding of Tord (Christian Skolmen) and pregnant Karen (Silje Salomonsen). Best man Even (Vegar Hoel) manages to make an idiot out of himself during his speech, but the awkward moment is lost in the subsequent merrymaking.
When Tord announces that he must go abroad, he leaves Karen in the care of Even knowing full well that this is a situation fraught with possibilities. Even dated Karen first, but he lost her to Tord. Even is a bit of a loser with a reputation for unreliability. With Tord gone, Even steps into his shoes, begins remodeling the kitchen for Karen and offers to attend her doctor’s appointments. No one, least of all Karen, believes that Even will ever really change.
As part of his character rehabilitation, Even, who’s never tried surfing in his life, decides that he’s going to learn (Tord is an experienced surfer), and so he contacts the legendary Skip (Kim Bodnia) for lessons. Even’s initial foray into surfing is very funny, and these scenes are loaded with some great characters including Even’s hapless friend Beckstrom (Andreas Cappelen). But ultimately, Monster Thursday is, surprisingly, a very serious film. Even serves an inspiration for those around him (and not in a gooey, sentimental way). His friends and acquaintances begin to appreciate what they have when they compare their lives to all that Even strove so hard for.
Visually, this is a gorgeous film. Many of the scenes include shots of the coastline with the sea and the sky blending with cold, steely grays. In other scenes the same shots take on a sepia tone. Monster Thursday is ultimately a very unusual and sad tale that manages to catch the viewer off guard. While on one level, it’s a fairly traditional tale of a love triangle, it’s ultimately much, much more than that.