Junk Mail Review

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Roy (Skjaestard) is a voyeur postman. He covets Line (Saether), a deaf girl who works in a dry cleaners. One day on his round, he finds Line has left her keys in the box, and cannot resist entering her apartment. He finds evidence seeming to implicate her in a robbery, but rather than turn her in, he is prepared to go to dramatic lengths to protect her.


Junk Mail is a melancholic comedy of the Kaurismaki school. For a debut feature it's surprisingly lean and controlled, with just enough quirk to compel. Like Alex Van Warnerdam in The Northerners, Skjaestard plays a postman who can't resist reading other people's mail. What he doesn't deliver he dumps in a hole. Teased by all and sundry at the sorting office, he daydreams about Line (Saether), a deaf blonde who works at the dry cleaners. When she absent-mindedly leaves her keys in her postbox, the unkempt postie sneaks into her apartment and stumbles across evidence linking her to a robbery.

Only in a world of bullies, slobs and thieves could a voyeur become a hero. Skjaestard shambles through the picture bearing an uncanny resemblance to Tim Roth doing a Buster Keaton impression. An outsider with stubborn sense of self-worth, he's sly, vindictive and dismissive of those he considers beneath him. Yet this shirker (wickedly named after Norway's polar explorer Amundsen) is willing to risk life and limb to help a damsel in distress, no matter how undeserving she is.

The humour lies mostly in small details, although there are a couple of wincingly funny set pieces, notably the dismal award ceremony that follows Amundsen's less than heroic struggle with some muggers. Like its football, Norway's cinema is currently experiencing something of an upsurge. This could well be the first Norwegian film you've ever seen, but if there are more like this in the pipeline, it won't be the last.

How could you not warm to a film that its director describes as "a black comedy about love, money that no one wants, cold canned spaghetti, karaoke, involuntary good deeds, rutting and the joy of being comatose"?