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by Pat Frickey

Martin Lund, Norway

PSYCHOBITCH opens with the distraught teenager Frida (Elli Rhiannon Müller Osbourne) causing quite a commotion on the roof of her school while being talked out of committing suicide by school officials. Her cousin is finally summoned to the rooftop to help get her back down.

How can this happen in the picturesque town of Gjøvik, Norway, in a luxurious middle school where teenagers inhabit an almost utopian world? The school itself is pure opulence. There seems to be a classroom or nook and cranny for every activity, and even quiet rooms where pupils can be alone. There is an enormous library and an Olympic-size pool used by the community. The teachers are loving and caring, and speak in modulated voices.

Well, Frida, the girl on the roof, is clearly an outsider; this isn’t her first suicide attempt. She lives without her parents in a very nicely decorated home. No abject poverty here. However Frida is obviously angry and rebellious and acts out dramatically and jarringly especially when bullied by her classmates.

Along comes golden boy Marius (Jonas Tidemann). His parents unabashedly adore him, and he is often put on display at dinner parties by guests throwing out random words for him to translate into English, like “tumble dryer” or “scaffolding.” He is a top cross country skier and teacher’s pet. In fact the teacher asks him to become a study buddy with poor Frida to help prepare her for the upcoming exams. Through Frida Marius begins to break out of his own  perfect world and is enticed to explore another not so regulated one. The shining prince wakes from a deep sleep and decides to take a walk on the wild side.

Martin Lund’s film is engaging, innocent, superficial, and especially aimed at the youth market. It’s a runaway hit in Norway. The most shocking thing is actually its title. Well, there might have been one kiss and of course it’s a bit embarrassing when Marius’ family comes into his bedroom when he was clearly fantasizing about Frida.

It is not surprising that PSYCHOBITCH won the MICHEL Award. The fact it also won the Commerzbank Audience Award is intriguing. Perhaps the adult moviegoers want to be taken back to a more innocent coming-of-age era rather than view the raw face of feminine iniquity in a film likeHERZDAME, or confront the brutal economic poverty in Ken Loach’s SORRY WE MISSED YOU. The recipe for the success of PSYCHOBITCH: Sentimental Escapism.