Philadelphia Film Festival Review: Sick of Myself

Philadelphia Film Festival Review: Sick of Myself

A mad stroke of grotesque brilliance, Sick of Myself takes aim at some of the strangest behaviors currently plaguing society and skewers them with clinically applied satire. In it, we follow Signe (Kristine Kujath Thorp) a young woman who feels increasingly invisible in the shadow of her blowhard boyfriend (Eirik Sæther), an ascendant modern art darling, and the culture that enables egos such as his.

After assisting a woman who suffered a bloody accident, Signe has to walk home from work covered in dripping crimson. During her trek she notices that her blood-drenched shirt has everyone paying attention to her, a welcome surprise. She soon hatches a plan: by ingesting a recently banned Russian pharmaceutical with a side-effect of oozing skin lesions, she can fake a mystery disease and command the attention of all in the room. Her plan is immediately and thoroughly successful, but at what cost??

Writer/director Kristoffer Borgli pulls no punches in depicting a world that facilitates the extreme behaviors of our protagonist — a world obsessed with likes, shares, and retweets. People getting their daily fix of intangible dopamine hits provided by the digital approval of others. In symbiosis with this all too common addiction is a culture which co-opts and fetishizes suffering, and which grants social and financial capital to those deemed to have suffered most. This ranking is often determined by surface level judgements, which for women especially, means physical beauty.

For Signe, a classically attractive, relatively privileged woman, her gruesome scarring may be shocking to look at (at points it’s damn near Elephant Man-esque), but it immediately grants her access to the upper echelons of society, and a get out of jail free card for the crime of being an asshole. Make no mistake, Signe is often a really big asshole. At the same time, she’s easy to feel a guarded sympathy toward on account of the fact that she’s very rarely the biggest asshole in the room.

The film follows Signe’s rise to stardom, but her meteoric ascension is one marred by new stressors, as indicated by the many dream sequences in which our goopy, sickly “heroine” is forced to confront her lies. All are revealed to be the products of her imagination after the fact, making for an appropriately jumpy viewing experience. This secondhand stress is quite aptly mitigated by some of the darkest, and most physically repulsive humor imaginable. Nary a stomach gurgle comes without a laugh, and vice versa.

Sick of Myself is an absolutely brutal satire that will have savvy viewers looking inward — and viewers of all types reaching for the antacid.

Directed by Kristoffer Borgli

Written by Kristoffer Borgli

Starring Kristine Kujath Thorp, Eirik Sæther, Fanny Vaager, Sarah Francesca Brænne

Not Rated, 95 minutes

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