The Art of Negative Thinking (Kunsten å Tenke Negativt)
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Even though their lives are filled with challenges, wheelchair-bound Asbjørn (Per Schaaning) and Marte (Marian Saastad Ottesen), along with Lillemor (Kari Simonsen) (who’s not really handicapped—really, she’s just depressed) and Marte’s husband, Gard (Henrik Mestad), have learned that they can improve their lives through positive thinking. And they have Tori (Kjersti Holmen) and her inspiring support group to thank for it.

So when the group finds out that a new couple has signed up, they’re eager to welcome them. When they drive out to meet Geirr (Fridtjov Såheim) and Ingvild (Kirsti Eline Torhaug) at their home, however, they don’t get the welcome they expect. Instead, they find Geirr, an angry man who spends his time smoking pot, watching war movies, and listening to Johnny Cash. His wife, Ingvild, is at the end of her rope—but Geirr wants absolutely nothing to do with the smiling bunch and their stupid ideas. So when they show up at the door, Geirr fights back—and the group’s impossibly cheery dispositions begin to crumble.

Though you might not expect a movie about a group of handicapped people to be funny, this dark Norwegian comedy is actually shockingly hilarious. Sure, it feels a little bit awkward at first—and sometimes you’ll almost feel ashamed of yourself for laughing. But it’s done so well—with surprising situations that seem to come out of nowhere—that you just won’t be able to help it.

Of course, there’s more to The Art of Negative Thinking (or Kunsten å Tenke Negativt in Norwegian) than just some outrageous comedy. The characters are all interesting—from angry, bitter Geirr to selfish but guilty Gard—and the performances are all spectacular. Although it’s meant to be a comedy, the story is written in a way that it will make you think as it’s making you laugh. It will make you realize that maybe holding everything inside isn’t all that healthy. And during one of my favorite scenes, as the four handicapped characters argue over whose life is the worst, you’ll realize that it’s really all relative.

But, in the end, it all comes back to the comedy. Despite its rather serious theme, the skilful writing and talented cast manage to keep things light—and even outrageously funny. And no matter what kind of mood you’re in when you start watching, you’re sure to have a smile on your face by the time the credits roll.

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