Stable job. Nice home. Loving wife. Healthy son. It’s a tough life. To get away from it all, Martin (Ole Giæver) embarks on a solitary weekend away, running through the Norwegian wilderness. Momentarily escaping his monotonous everyday life, he finds he cannot escape his own thoughts, and soon finds himself pondering the big questions.
Though such a concept could prove to be dull, Out of Nature is engaging for the most part throughout its brief eighty minute running time. This is mostly due to Martin’s entertaining stream of consciousness, with his thoughts ranging from comedic to downright depressing, often both at once. Some of these thoughts are easy to identify with (such as formulating an excuse for not turning up to a party via text), while others make him a difficult protagonist to empathise with (his attitude towards his wife is overly harsh at times). Ole Giæver writes, stars, and co-directs (with Maude Vold), and his motivations remain unclear. While his film can be read as a cautionary tale about taking a comfortable life for granted, at times it reads like one big justification for why men commit adultery.
Broad comparisons can be made with the recent Wild, which told the true story of Cheryl Strayed’s hike across the Pacific Coast Trail to find redemption. But whereas Wild fits neatly into a Hollywood box that is concerned with self-discovery and happy endings, Out of Nature has a very European sensibility, and a murkier resolution. Along the way viewers are invited to lose themselves in visual imagery of the Norwegian landscape while Martin’s thoughts wash over them, though this effect is slightly lessened by having to attend to the subtitles. There’s also more than a few glimpses of sneaky peen, proving just how far from the breasts-only mentality of Hollywood we are. Out of Nature is certainly out of the box, and should be commended for as much, but it remains to be seen what message male viewers in similar circumstances will take from it.
Out of Nature is screening at the 2015 Scandinavian Film Festival.