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Fantastic Fest 2010 Review: FATSO

J.C. De Leon

by: J.C. De Leon
September 26th, 2010

Director: Arild Fröhlich
Writers: Arild Fröhlich, Lars Gudmestad, Lars Ramslie
Cast: Nils Jørgen Kaalstad, Josefin Ljungman, Kyrre Hellum

This review of FATSO is brought to you by the makers of The Fleshlight. "The Fleshlight, the worlds #1 selling male sex toy." It should be pointed out that this review is actually NOT sponsored by the Fleshlight but it definitely gets its moment to shine in this film. FATSO is a wonderful tale of a man and his roommate that could be considered a coming of age tale for both the man, and his roommate. 

In what is billed as an anti-romantic comedy from director Arild Fröhlich, FATSO tells the story of an adorable, yet socially awkward, loner named Rino (Nils Jørgen Kaalstad). Rino loves women, he loves women so much that it very often interrupts his day so that he can take care of his own frustrations, several times a day. In addition to almost constant masturbation, he also draws comic strips that illustrate his feelings and how he sees the world in all of its seeming unfairness. His life turns upside down when a buxom blonde Swede named Malin (Josefin Ljungman) moves into his spare room. She's attractive, has attractive friends, she brings guys home and sleeps with them, and this is all happening within earshot of Rino and his self-imposed bubble of shyness. However, Malin is not without her problems either; she parties too much, dates the wrong guys, has self esteem issues despite her beauty.

Rino isn't totally alone his world, he has a close friend named Phillip (Kyrre Hellum), who offers up his philosophies on life and women as the thoughts come to his mind and has a few choice lessons in trying to help his buddy out with his love life or lack thereof.

The performances are more than solid. Nils Jørgen Kaalstad is a convincing introvert, and when the time comes for his character to be more of an extrovert he makes the transition seem like a natural maturation of Rino. Josefin Ljungman's portrayal of the proverbial "tease" is certainly authentic enough for any woman of that type to be offended and say that not all women are like that.

The humor in the movie is definitely crude. While it starts out as being crude for the sake of being crude, it begins to formulate into a story where you begin to see Rino become molded into a self confident man. The idea of hanging out at the park with some friends would have seemed so foreign to him had Malin not come into his life. He becomes excited for a house party and even gets in a dance or two, all while he and Malin are becoming closer and closer. Naturally, the relationship begins to erode, and the breaking point is the biggest negative of the film. It comes in the form of a cheap and obvious joke that was more in tune with the beginning of the film, and not in line with the maturation of the character of Rino. Thankfully though, the resolution to that misstep makes up for the poor execution of a plot point that had to happen for the sake of not being the typical rom-com that we are used to.

This is a wonderfully funny film, and it's biggest strength is that even American audiences will see similarities to situations that they might have been in before. While it starts out as a film that may not be for the sexually squeamish, it has way more maturity and heart than its first act will indicate.

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