How much narcissism is too much? This movie finds out

Film | Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Sick of Myself
3.5 out of 5

I’ve droned on in these pages about how strong Scandinavian cinema is at portraying modern malaise. The emergence of two-time Palme d’Or winner Ruben Östlund (The Square, Triangle of Sadness) has given the Scandi film industry a new spin: more satirical, less humane.

Sick of Myself continues that trend while pushing the limits of what’s palatable.

Signe (Kristine Kujath Thorp) and Thomas (Eirik Sæther) are the kind of couple you would cross the room to avoid at a party. Constantly trying to one-up each other, one wonders what keeps them together. Thomas hits the zeitgeist jackpot when his sculptures (made of stolen furniture) become the talk of the art world. His sudden notoriety doesn’t sit well with Signe, a barista at an Oslo café who doesn’t have an artistic outlet to compete with her boyfriend. She tries the next best thing: buying black market anti-anxiety medication notorious for scarring your body and making herself sick on purpose. All attention is good attention, right?

It gets darker from there. Thomas has no intention to stop hogging the spotlight and undercuts his ailing girlfriend at every opportunity. In turn, Signe’s hunger for fame and fortune grows, and she convinces herself further damage to her body will get her there.

Sick of Myself approaches the characters with curiosity instead of empathy. While it works as comedy, the last third is hard to take (full body cringing). Writer/director Kristoffer Borgli taps into the narcissism and desperation that characterize many influencers and social media personalities, and ups the ante just a little bit (otherwise it would be cinema verité).

It may not be everybody’s cup of tea but one must admire the chutzpah of making a relentless movie about two awful people.