Curling King (a.k.a. Kong Curling), 2011.
Directed by Ole Endresen.
Starring Atle Antonsen, Jan Sælid, Jon Øigarden, Linn Skåber and Ane Dahl Torp.
Years after being banned from the sport, a former curling champion comes out of retirement in the hope of raising funds to pay for a life-saving operation for his old coach.
When browsing the BFI London Film Festival guide, one film grabbed my attention quite unexpectedly: that film was Curling King. And rather excitedly I went along to see it. I was not disappointed.
Curling King focuses on Truls Paulsen (Atle Antonsen), who is at the top of his game in the sport of curling. However, his unfortunate desire to get every last detail perfect sends him over the edge and he is banned from the sport and sectioned.
Years later Truls is released, only to find out his coach and mentor Gordon is seriously ill and needs a lung transplant. He comes up with an idea to help his hero: get his old team back together and win the Curling National Championship, and therefore pocket the prize money, which has been donated by an avid curling fan who pledges his lottery winnings to the victors.
But getting the unbeatable curling team back together is not as easy at seems due to the nature of the characters. There’s the horny guy who will literally sleep with anything, the insomniac who blames his pillows for his lack of sleep rather than his unresolved issues with his father and the quiet one who has a strong interest in birdwatching.
Whilst watching the film I couldn’t help but compare it to the American sporting comedies Blades of Glory and Dodgeball. In Dodgeball Vince Vaughn’s Average Joe’s team enter a national competition to win prize money to keep their gym open and in this movie Team Paulsen want the money to help save Gordon. I didn’t spend the whole film making direct comparisons however certain elements, such as the quirky commentators, did take me back to the Hollywood hit.
But Curling King is a very funny film in its own right, with a strong focus on loyalty and friendship buried beneath the farce. The characters all have hidden depths to them and I really did find myself willing Truls and his comrades to triumph in the face of adversity.
Other secondary characters such as Truls’ wife Sigrid (who spends hours chatting to her best friend on the phone even though they live two doors away from each other) and his arch rival Stefan Ravndal add to a collection of characters who the audience can anticipate something comical is going to happen whenever they are on screen.
There are also some great scenes that really are comedic set pieces of the highest order: watch out for the delivery guy who tries not to disturb the insomniac and the scene where Sigrid tries to seduce the rebellious Truls. These will be just two of the countless talking points post viewing.
I firmly believe that this film has the potential to be one of the sleeper hits of this year’s festival and I recommend it very highly. I will be trying to catch it again with my girlfriend who really wants to see it based on the synopsis and my thoughts and I have no doubt in my mind that she, and anyone else that goes to see it, will be laughing throughout. These days it’s quite rare for a comedy film to be consistently funny for the entire film but Curling King scores a victory on that front too. A must see movie.
Jon Dudley is a freelance film and television journalist and his 17-minute short film Justification was shown at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.