And then to Toronto, for some absurdist comedy with THE DEATH (AND LIFE) OF CARL NAARDLINGER. Carl Naardlinger is an IT specialist. He leads a pretty boring life, dreaming of adventure. Carl Naardlinger is also a baker, but he’s a different Carl Naardlinger. When the baker Carl Naardlinger goes missing, the Missing Persons person erroneously knocks on IT Carl Naardlinger’s door, setting off a bizarre series of incredible coincidences. This includes a dead neighbor who secretly told his family how great the Naardlingers were and how much they took care of him. And mysterious luggage showing up. And Carl Naardlinger’s exact doppleganger. Are these all just ridiculous coincidences? Is there someone controlling all of this? Is fate real? Or is life just funny sometimes? And how many times can I use the name Naardlinger in this review? Naardlinger, Naardlinger, Naardlinger. It’s very funny, and a fun reminder that the most important thing in life is to not take it too seriously.
The Death (and Life) of Carl Naardlinger – I spend a good portion of my time thinking about parallel universes, choice, and destiny. As a totally charmed, super lucky, very fortunate girl (I mean eerily and inexplicably so in some ways) with a strong sense of intuition and a healthy respect for “things happening for a reason,” I’m definitely drawn to films that explore these themes. This one appears to do so and with the extra bonus of it being done artfully and humorously. This has a high probability I think of coming out one of my favorites of the festival.
There have been a number of films over the years that have dealt with the doppelganger theme, that is, the possibility that there is someone out there who looks exactly like you do. It is the principle behind THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER and Denis Villeneuve’s recent ENEMY, for example. But in this ingenious new comedy from first time director Katherine Schlemmer, we find our mild-mannered IT specialist confronting what can only be called a double doppelganger situation.
At first, officials come to his door looking for a man with the same unusual name. What are the odds with a name like Naardlinger? It turns out his namesake has gone missing, so our hero goes looking for him in the Toronto ravines. Instead, his quest turns up the missing man’s identical twin brother. Meanwhile Carl’s wife Pam is unnerved when she wishes the neighbour dead, and that is exactly what happens.
What is going on? Can there be some higher power that is pulling on strings to spite the Naardlingers? Originality and laughs at every step, DEATH (AND LIFE) is the calling card of a fresh new female directorial voice.
The Film Corner with Greg Klymkiw (full review link)
Wednesday, 30 November 2016
THE DEATH (AND LIFE) OF CARL NAARDLINGER by Katherine Schlemmer
Katherine Schlemmer’s sprightly directorial debut yields a queerly delightful comedy of coincidence which leads its characters and the audience on an odyssey into the very heart of what it means to be human in a seemingly apportioned world that, below its surface, roils with crises of identity. Much of the film is delivered by its superb cast in perfect deadpan, so much so, that at one point, when the film explodes into a volcano of mad, manic overlapping dialogue, the effect is as jolting as it is hilarious.