Sick of Myself, 2022.
Directed by Kristoffer Borgli.
Starring Sarah Francesca Brænne, Eirik Sæther, and Kristine Kujath Thorp.
Jealous of her boyfriend’s success in the art world, a young woman deliberately gives herself a debilitating skin disease.
Everyone knows a couple like Signe and Thomas. Whether at an art opening or a dinner party, they are locked in an endless competition for attention and approval. They love to brag and constantly undercut each other’s jokes and conversational gambits. Couples like this are social black holes who most of us would cross the street to avoid, but what happens to these people when their partner becomes famous? What might it drive them to do? With Sick of Myself, writer-director Kristoffer Borgli invites us to find out.
Signe (Kristine Kujath Thorp) and Thomas (Eirik Sæther) live together in Oslo. They are the sort of young urbanites for whom the practicalities of life are seemingly abstract concepts – she’s a barista and he’s an aspiring artist who creates installations from the high-end chairs he steals from local furniture stores. At first glance, Signe is a familiar indie comedy protagonist, a slacker in an unfulfilling relationship drifting aimlessly through life. But when Thomas begins to receive glowing critical praise for his work, Signe’s jealousy consumes her.
For Signe, standing on the sidelines while Thomas is interviewed by glossy art magazines is completely unacceptable. But since she has never been particularly good at anything, she must resort to drastic measures to reclaim her rightful place in the spotlight. After seeing a story online, Signe has an idea. She begins to take massive amounts of Russian anti-anxiety pills in order to gain the medication’s most common side effect: a horrible skin disease.
At its New York premiere at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, Sick of Myself screened in the fest’s Head Trip program, a slate of films that push the boundaries of what can be considered horror. And while this movie takes grisly pleasure in chronicling Signe’s increasingly distressing (and disgusting) condition, it’s an early scene where an incandescently jealous Signe fakes a severe allergic reaction at Thomas’s art opening that sets the tone for what is to come: Sick of Myself is primarily a broad, uproariously funny comedy.
At various points, Sick of Myself satirizes the art world, wellness trends, and inclusive clothing lines. But there is something inherently funny about someone trying to get attention in such a witless and destructive way, and Borgli wisely leans into the comedic possibilities of Signe’s doomed plot. As Signe and Thomas, Kristine Kujath Thorp and Eirik Sæther commit themselves fully to the single-minded narcissism and moral vacuity of their characters, and Sick of Myself succeeds because everyone involved seems to understand and embrace its borderline nonsensical premise.
A24 has just tapped Kristoffer Borgli to write and direct a vehicle for Nicolas Cage, presumably on the ample virtues of Sick of Myself. And indeed, even if Borgli ultimately seems unable to make up his mind about what kind of fate his antiheroine deserves, Sick of Myself is a queasy, funny must-see.
Sick of Myself played at the 2022 Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★