Call me a crank, but I’m not a fan of Ikea — not even of its famed cafeteria. So when I heard “Here is Harold” was a “Down-with-Ikea!” movie, I wanted to fly straight to Norway and shake the director Gunnar Vikene’s hand. Vikene is part of a growing movement of Scandinavian filmmakers who like to combine poignancy with Nordic humor (look no further than director Bent Hamer). Yes, humor is a big thing in Norway — when you have to pay as much as $20 for a head of lettuce, laughing about it is often the only thing that will get you through the day.
For the protagonist though, his humor has all but dried up. Harold (Bjorn Sundquist) has been running the same furniture business for 40 years with his wife, Marny (Grethe Selius), and all is well in a flat-line kind of way, until Ikea opens a superstore next door. Business comes to a screeching halt and Marny succumbs to Alzheimer’s, while the bank claims Harold’s shop and home. Enraged and desperate, Harold jumps into his Saab and drives to Sweden to kidnap the founder of Ikea. This proves surprisingly easy, because the founder doesn’t seem to mind being kidnapped — in fact, it’s just the sort of work break he had been looking for.
Droll, clunky and full of awkward charm, “Here is Harold” should be required viewing for anyone who is about to attempt to assemble a piece of Ikea furniture with just one Allen key and a few abstract diagrams . Kidnapping the founder would seem a breeze in comparison.
“Here is Harold (Japanese Title: “Harold ga Warau Sono Hi Made”)” is now playing at the Ebisu Garden Cinema and other theaters.
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