Nothing Bad Can Happen

When I'd first read the description of Nothing Bad Can Happen - I must say I wasn't especially interested. But the execution of the film while extremely uncomfortable held my interest both during and after. In the sense that for reasons I cannot entirely explain the experience has stayed with me, my brain periodically and randomly revisiting moments in the film.

The story isn't exactly subtle ... Tore, a lost young man with an angelic face has been found and saved, becoming a fervent member of the "Jesus Freaks" a Christian punk rock collective of believers. The opening moments of the film show Tore's baptism with the group. Like punk itself they've striven to strip things down to the basics - in this case that of their Christian faith. And Tore is a true, true believer in the power of prayer and belief. So much so that when he runs across a family with a broken down car he prays over the hood. Much to the surprise of the family's dad, Benno, the car restarts. Clearly, not believing, Benno is intrigued enough on some level to take up Tore's invitation to learn more. Long story short - Benno comes to meet Tore and ends up taking him home after the boy experiences an epileptic seizure (or as Tore prefers to think of it a visiting by the Holy Spirit).

As the title of the film suggests, all is not well in the Benno household, and the family patriarch soon begins to test Tore's faith in ways that even Job himself might have struggled with. We know it's coming, but the extent of the bullying to abuse (not entire limited to Benno) will still shock even hardened audiences. Tore suffers, but believes that holding to his principles will save those in the family, and saving they are in serious need of, from father to mother to children. Tore's personal and religious transition and that of the families is complex, disturbing, but also rather engaging. Some of it is extremely in your face, but there are also moments of powerful and more subtle change, particularly a late moment in the hospital where Tore admits something being of the mundane rather than supernatural that shows more about where he is than any amount of telling would.

This is not a fun movie to watch, and at times it's hard to believe that someone would subject themselves to the level of misery that Tore does. Likely a credit to actor Julius Feldmeier his performance makes the unbelievable believable enough to roll with the story. Benno (played by Sascha Alexander Gersak) delivers an incredible performance. Managing to be both overstuffed with quiet menace, incredible evil, yet likable to the degree it's understandable as to how those around him could be pulled into his damaging spell. Not all the relationships are horrible, Tore's growing closer to the family's daughter elicits the most touching moment of the film as he struggles to hold true to his vow of celibacy until marriage. And it's for her and the younger brother that he endures (or believes he's enduring) the suffering. None of this is to say that I agree with what might be viewed as the film's message. I venture to say most viewers will be screaming at Tore to take a very different path. But I don't have to necessarily agree with the artistic vision, or even fully like to recommend Nothing Bad Can Happen as a unique picture worth watching.

The film's cinematography is simple, but often beautifully calibrated to the story at hand. The performances, and perhaps the discussions that could erupt later bring me to recommend taking a look. But again, not a nice film about good people. And given one extremely memorable scene of forced feeding I don't expect you'll want to watch it directly before or after dinner. Though I suspect they'll definitely serve chicken during a future screening at the Alamo Drafthouse given their dark sense of humor.

No comments: