Tragedy of a stressed and overworked man and how he manages to overcome it.
Release Date: 14 October 2005 (Sweden)
Director: Simon Staho
Writer: Peter Asmussen, Simon Staho
Cast: Mikael Persbrandt, Lena Olin, Tuva Novotny
Country: Sweden, Denmark
Directed by Simon Staho this is the story of the collapse and self realisation of one man. Ake Johnsson is rich and successful, adoring the trappings that such success brings him. His dogged pursuit of his career has however taken him so far away from real human contact that everything is about to go terribly wrong for him. So obsessed is he with the all he is making on his mobile while driving his SUV that actually manages to run down and kill his own son.
And even then he can’t put the phone down.
Ake is perhaps the most utterly un empathetic character to grace the screen. A lifetime of career obsession has blocked any real human feeling s ha has left and now he is simply devoid of understanding for his fellow creature. His life rapidly slides off the rails after this traumatic event, he looses his wife and the rest of his family, then eventually looses his job and all the privileges that go with it.
Forced to find other employment, he ends up as a taxi driver and this is where his sanity really starts to take a beating. Ake’s one remaining human desire, is to love. This new job brings him into contact with several ladies and Ake descends into a desperate and seemingly psychotic individual, becoming a pest to the three female leads Linda, young and comparatively open, Nina, Ake’s ex wife who he develops an obsession with kerb crawling after in the taxi and Emma, daughter. When he kidnaps Emma it’s revealed just how disassociated from reality Ake has become yet it’s difficult to care about him, I think because his reactions are so alien to us. In his own way, he is trying to spend more time with his daughter and is unable to fathom why she is less than appreciative.
In fact for such a reasonably appalling example of a human being, he gets off lightly with the final line of the film signalling almost the miraculous hope of a renewal. Bang Bang Orangutang is a somewhat strange film, largely because of the lack of empathy with it’s central character and deserves to be applauded for having the braver y to try this. It manages to pull it off too, the film is entertaining and directed with quiet confidence by co writer Staho. It’s entirely a character study and this might make it off-putting an lightly impenetrable to some but it’s worth watching through to the end if nothing to see the carefully written collapse and eventual borderline madness of someone who should be hugely unlike able…but somehow isn’t even that!