Pros: Quirky, amusing and thought provoking.
Cons: Slow paced with no huge payoff.
This may very well be one of the most unusual films you will ever see. Definitely offbeat, Kitchen Stories will not appeal to everyone. Filmed in Norway the premise of the story is based on the experience of an employee of an industrial research company. Set in the early 1950s, the Swedish based company is conducting time and motion studies for the purpose of designing more efficient kitchens. The employee Folke Nilsson is sent to Norway to observe the kitchen movements of an aged Norwegian man who lives alone.
Both the observed and observers are given strict instructions not to interact. They are not to speak with each other or even acknowledge one another. Ultimately this movie unmasks the folly of science to be unobtrusive when human to human contact is involved. The themes of this movie are loneliness and solitude. The message is that the need for human bonding is stronger than the quest for knowledge or need to keep your job. We learn perhaps that ultimately it is not as fulfilling to be an observer as it is to be a participant of life.
Though a comedy this is not uproariously funny. It is more absurd than laughable. Since there is relatively little dialogue, particularly in the beginning, the fact that is subtitled will be less of a problem for those who find this to be a challenge.
The film is visually very interesting as Folke towers over his subject while perched in an enormously high chair in the corner of the little kitchen. The colorful 1950s automobiles juxtaposed against the gray clothing; and monochromatic winter landscape suggests that there is a joy of life just beneath the surface of the public facade. This is further enhanced by the movies opening and closing music track which is a snappy upbeat Scandinavian ditty reminiscent of the popular Swingle Singers.
Kitchen Stories takes some patience to watch as it is very slow paced. Boredom is an important element of the story and a risky emotion to work with when making a movie. As is the case with most European movies there is not a huge payoff but rather a quirky conclusion to the story, which may leave some wondering why they invested the time. But if youre not in a rush to move on the next phase of your life; or if you can put aside all of the chores you have undone for a couple of hours, Kitchen Stories might inspire you to get more involved in the important pastime of human interaction.