The Movie Waffler New to VOD - SICK OF MYSELF | The Movie Waffler


A narcissistic young woman takes increasingly desperate measures to ensure she remains the centre of attention.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Kristoffer Borgli

Starring: Kristine Kujath Thorp, Eirik Sæther, Fanny Vaager, Fredrik Stenberg Ditlev-Simonsen, Sarah Francesca Brænne, Ingrid Vollan

Sick of Myself poster

Takeshi Kushida's recent dark Japanese drama Woman of the Photographs told the story of a struggling model who is surprised that a picture she posts online of scars she received from an accident becomes her most "liked" post. Fuelled by this discovery, she allows her scars to fester, posting increasingly disturbing images to an ever-growing audience. Norwegian writer/director Kristoffer Borgli's Sick of Myself has an almost identical premise, but here it's played with the sort of distinctively Scandinavian brand of black humour we've seen in the films of Ruben Ostlund and Joachim Trier.

sick of myself review

Borgli's film is centred on Signe (Kristine Kujath Thorp), a twentysomething narcissist who likes to be the centre of attention but who finds that space usually occupied by her boyfriend Thomas (Eirik Sæther), a rising star in the world of conceptual art. One afternoon while working at her bakery job, Signe is shocked to find a bloodied, hysterical woman rush into the store having been bitten by a dog. Signe comes to her aid and comforts the woman until an ambulance arrives. Still in shock, Signe walks home without changing out of her bloodied clothes, attracting the attention of worried passersby. Arriving home, the usually inattentive Thomas can't do enough to help her.

This causes a lightbulb to go off in Signe's head as she realises a surefire way to attract attention is to have people believe you're a victim of some sort. During a dinner following Thomas's latest exhibition, Signe lies about having a nut allergy, leading to a hilarious sequence of situation comedy when the chef spots her eating from Thomas's plate, forcing Signe to feign a negative reaction. Signe continues to look for ways to become a victim, like attempting to goad a dog into biting her, but she strikes gold when she comes across a news piece about a Russian drug that has been banned for causing extreme rashes. With the aid of a drug dealing friend, Signe acquires copious amounts of the illegal pills and starts popping them like Smarties. At first she comes out in a rash, but after a couple of days her face has swollen to Elephant Man-esque proportions. With doctors baffled, Signe finds herself briefly the centre of her nation's attention and even gets taken on by a modelling agency committed to inclusion. But she becomes increasingly paranoid that the truth will come out, dogged by nightmares in which her ruse is revealed.

sick of myself review

Played with relish by Thorp, Signe is a fascinating protagonist, a millennial Larry David on speed. Her quest for attention knows no bounds, and in one of the film's darkest pieces of black comedy she throws a tantrum when a mass shooting knocks her interview from the front page of a national newspaper's website. It doesn't matter that she's defaced herself seemingly permanently; once she's getting attention that's all that matters to Signe.

Borgli would appear to be commenting on the recent rise of self-afflicted victimhood among citizens of the western world, with many determined to position themselves as downtrodden, whether it's straight white men claiming everyone else is out to get them or everyone else claiming straight white men are out to get them. When Signe lies about her fake nut allergy, she reassures her fellow diners that "I try not to let it run my life," but a glance at any social media platform will give you the impression that many (mostly young, white and middle class) people today seem to define themselves by whatever affliction they might possess, even if it's something as small as ingrown toenails.

sick of myself review

As Signe's condition worsens, the film begins to morph into a Cronenbergian body-horror, with Thorp resembling Jeff Goldblum in The Fly as her hair falls out and in one particularly icky moment, the flesh of her face gets stuck to a table like chewing gum. Yet the more we worry for Signe's physical deterioration, the more she laps it up. The trouble for Signe is that the news cycle spins quickly, and it's not long before she's no longer considered a novelty and her friends go back to overlooking her. After all, Warhol did say we would get 15 minutes of fame at most, and with her minutes elapsed, Signe is left to serve as a sorry-looking cautionary tale of the lengths people will take to be noticed.

Sick of Myself
 is on UK/ROI VOD now.