Sigrid and Christian are having a chemistry. There is just one tiny problem: Christian's housemate Frank dresses and acts like a dog.
Viljar Bøe's (NOR) psychological thriller Good Boy is a film not easy to watch - it creates a certain discomfort and makes the audience doubt in reality.
As the film appears at HÕFF, he gave us a brief interview.
You’ve said that Beauty and the Beast was an inspiration for "Good Boy". Giving some grim twists to childhood fairy tales is an interesting concept. In Good Boy, Christian’s … uniqueness, which stems from his childhood, can also be seen as a sort of reflection of twisted childhood stories. If you could make any fairy tale-inspired film, what would it be?
Actually ,,Sleeping Beauty” was one of the main reasons I took an interest in film at an early age. Ever since, I am interested in making other fairy tale-inspired films, too. I think “Rapunzel” could be a great one to adapt into something more twisted.
As we experience most of the film’s events through a character named Sigrid, one of the most shocking scenes is when she meets Frank. If you have been to "Good Boy"’s screenings, how did it feel to see and hear audiences reaction to this moment?
I've been to a couple of the screenings for "Good Boy" and there are obviously some scenes that I'm a little anxious and nervous to show to the audience. The one you mentioned is the one I really hope to get a reaction from! And it doesn't really matter to me how they react. I'm just happy to see that there seem to be at least some people who find the film funny as well as those who find it creepy or scary.
The way the audience perceives the main character, Christian, changes vastly during the film. I think it is safe to say that most of the positive and sympathetic emotions towards him are gone by the end of the movie. As the writer/director, do you develop a personal connection towards the characters that you create and feel sympathy for them?
I definitely have a personal connection with my characters - when you spend so much time with them during writing, directing and editing, it's kind of hard not to have. But I have to say that Gard and Kristine (the actors playing the main characters) probably have an even deeper connection with them, and they got to know the characters even more. They were essential in helping me while writing. They gave each character more depth.
The film is very effective in creating a sense of isolation which culminates just when things take a turn for the worst, as our main characters have no contact with the outside world. The house plays a large part in this feeling of isolation. Did you have this specific location in mind or did you go location-hunting for it?
That location is actually a house that my family on my father’s side built over 100 years ago! So I certainly did have the location in mind during the writing process. It's also the place where we ended up staying for the whole shoot. Actually, I loved shooting there so much that I ended up living there.
The film is very naturalistic – it relies almost entirely on diegetic sound, handheld camera shots, natural lighting. Is that your general preference or did you feel, given what the movie is about, this was the right style?
We worked with a very small crew and we didn't have that many shooting days. So we had to move fast, which meant we had to work with natural and practical lighting. While it was a style partially born out of necessity, it's also a way of shooting that I very much enjoy. I was the camera operator, which meant that I could react in real time to what the actors were doing. Since there were no artificial lights, it meant that with the actors we could face the camera wherever we wanted. I'm also very inspired by the Dogme 95 movement and Lars von Trier, who uses a lot of handheld. I further think that since the plot of Good Boy is absurd, it helps ground the film in reality. Hence, I didn't want to impose too much of a style, so that the shift in tone and genre could be felt more natural.
I have to ask. Where is the dog suit from?
It's sort of a Frankenstein monster and made up of many different things that we could get a hold of on the Internet. So the costume can't be pinned down to a specific dog breed, which I think makes it more unique. Frank is its own dog breed!
You had a busy 2022, releasing two movies. What do you have cooking at the moment?
We're actually working on our next feature film, Above the Knee, and we're going to start shooting this summer! It's about a person who wants to get rid of his left leg. We're doing a crowdfunding campaign now, so if it sounds interesting feel free to check it out!
Above the Knee video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAM2SqUYP2k
Above the Knee crowdfunding page: https://igg.me/at/AboveTheKnee