the fresh films reviews

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Oljeberget (2006)

Aslaug Holm 
The Rich Country
111 minutes
Tor Buvarp
Aslaug Holm

Cast includes:

Themselves Jens Stoltenberg
Haakon Lie
Martin Kolberg
Kristin Halvorsen
Benedikte Tetlie



In 2000, the wonderboy of Det norske Arbeiderparti (Norwegian Labour Party), Jens Stoltenberg, was elected Prime Minister of Norway. Young, handsome, eloquent and popular, Stoltenberg seemed the natural successor to the legendary Gro Harlem Brundtland and a figure who seemed destined to follow a tradition of great leaders in Norway's largest political party. But his first period as Prime Minister was short-lived and largely unsuccessful as he lead a minority government and received criticism from his own party.

Halfway into his rearmament to regain power, filmmaker Aslaug Holm brought her camera to follow Stoltenberg's election campaign. If she wanted to get under his skin, she was only moderately successful, because Stoltenberg remains professional throughout, letting us venture very little into his private sphere (except for a charming dinner he cooks for his parents, Thorvald and Karin Stoltenberg). That is a decent enough choice, as it distances the film from the less serious and more sensational treatment politicians seem to get in modern mediums. Instead, Holm successfully captures the off-guard moments of Stoltenberg and lets us take a look at mechanisms behind the curtains of party life. It is both refreshing and interesting, making Oljeberget an enjoyable film probably a bit too enjoyable, if you aren't a member of the Labour Party. Because even though Holm sheds light on a handful of hot issues in Norwegian politics, her only criticism is the ones she shares with Stoltenberg himself. I won't claim Aslaug Holm is Leni Riefenstahl, but she also doesn't present herself as the most critical documentarist in the history of the genre, as her kind lens makes sure never to catch her subject at an unfortunate moment where one is forced to be critical of him.

Still, it must be up to the viewer to be critical of a political film like this, because any documentary is ultimately subjective, even if the documentarist should never be biased. Oljeberget is a very narrative documentary, and a well-done one at that. And, as opposed to almost any political material you find in almost any other medium, it isn't out to smear people - something that, after all, makes Holm's effort quite decent. 

Copyright 3.9.2007 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang