If you’ve been reading my writing for a while, you’d know I’m exasperated with the state of Hollywood contemporary comedy. Specifically, I bristle at these film’s formal sloppiness, that bring together talented comedians and creatives but waste their potential with uneven screenplays and slipshod editing.
Thank God for comedies outside of the American studio system, then. Roy Andersson’s absurdist, absurdly-named opus A Pigeon Sat On a Branch Reflecting on Existence (the third film in a loose trilogy) is the polar opposite of the Paul-Feig-inspired mode of filmmaking, etched with a formal rigour that’s undeniably impressive. Andersson uses a static camera to portray tableaux that offer a brand of comedy that’s also miles away from Hollywood: weird, stilted, overtly political.
Unless you’ve got a very specific sense of humour, you’re unlikely to be doubled over with laughter watching A Pigeon, but that’s not really a problem. Andersson is more interested in following up bizarre comedy with confrontational allusions to Norwegian politics: he’ll make you laugh, then fidget uncomfortably. Those allusions are what kept me at arm’s length, unfortunately; I confess that the references to Scandinavian history flew over my head; something I don’t have to worry about with Zac Efron comedies!