LFF film review: Sick of Myself
Jasmine Valentine | On 20, Oct 2022
Director: Kristoffer Borgli
Cast: Kristine Kujath Thorp, Eirik Sæther
Sick of Myself is one of many films streaming on BFI Player as part of the 2022 London Film Festival. For the full line-up and how it works, click here.
It takes a certain kind of person to take butt pics after being hospitalised with a life-changing skin mutation, and Sick of Myself is the film to bring them into the spotlight. There’s possibly a question of whether they exist in the first place, or whether audiences would want to see them at all. Either way, Signe (Kristine Kujath Thorp) is determined to stop at nothing to make herself the centre of attention, and the effects of that seep into real life. Following her dramatic decision to self-infect with a viscous drug that causes reported skin lacerations, Signe’s mental stability constantly dangles on a precariously balanced thread. It’s a film that has already been billed as a little sister to The Worst Person in the World — and it’s not hard to see why.
In a year of film that is constantly toying with a dual cat-and-mouse dynamic, Sick of Myself rears its head as one of the more interesting takes. Continually trying to one-up each other in a never-ending cycle of inane pettiness, Signe and her boyfriend, Thomas (Eirik Sæther), are perhaps as insufferable to the outside world as they are to each other. Neither their actions nor connections have any real value, other than trying to temporarily cater to a buzz that cannot be sustained.
It’s rare for any narrative to compel an audience while its leading characters can be so viscerally hated, yet Sick of Myself manages to toe an intriguing line. At no point through her time on screen can viewers properly warm to Signe. Even when she begins to suffer from her selfish mistakes, there’s a veneer of fakery left over from her earlier appearances that never quite penetrates the realm of empathy. We watch her get exactly what’s coming to her and, to a certain degree, it’s hard to feel emotional.
What holds the biggest sense of mental whimsy is the cinematography. Cuts from solemn standing trees and effervescent dinner parties to an increasingly emaciated Signe hold the room for the emotions we can’t produce otherwise. The contrast of Signe against the world of art — only fleetingly interested in her for an ugliness that’s socially acceptable — adds to this feeling, effectively able to isolate her way of thinking from the upper-class chaos she has become entrenched in. There’s a satisfying eye for detail too, from finding her drug of choice on the Daily Mail’s website to the earrings that take up more space than needed.
For a film that has a laser focus on what it wants to achieve, the end result of Sick of Myself is both satisfying and incredibly basic. There’s nothing inherently negative, yet the course of the narrative can teeter into territory we feel we’ve seen before. Even so, there’s a lot to hold the eye here, with a subtle creative intellect bubbling under the surface.
Sick of Myself is available to rent for £10 until 23rd October.