BFI #LFF 2022: SICK OF MYSELF Film Review

Dark, funny, and deeply disturbing, SICK GIRL is a sharp and biting satire about our desire to be seen.

4 out of 5 stars

Following his debut feature, DRIB (2017), writer-director Kristoffer Borgli serves up a deliciously horrid treat with SICK OF MYSELF, an extremely grotesque satire about morbid attention seeking.

On the surface, Signe (Kristine Kujath Thorp) and boyfriend Thomas (Erik Saether) look like an Insta-perfect couple, but their constant and petty attempts to outshine each other point to something much more toxic.

When Thomas makes an unexpected breakthrough onto the contemporary art scene, Signe hatches a vicious plan to reclaim the attention, purposely abusing illegal drugs to make herself ill while basking in the comfort and sympathy that inevitably follows.

Dark, funny, and deeply disturbing, SICK GIRL is a sharp and biting satire about our desire to be seen. Carefully mixing drama and comedy with body horror and satire, Borgli plays to his strengths, demonstrating an exuberant willingness to play with form.

Smart and engrossing, Borgli pushes the boundaries to extremes with several well-placed dream sequences in which Signe naively imagines the best possible outcome of her scheme. While the plot becomes increasingly exaggerated, Borgli never loses his footing, and there is enough dark comedy to ensure we don’t lose engagement along the way.

In the challenging lead role of Signe, Kristine Kujath Thorp powers this modern fable with her charismatic performance and spot-on physical comedy. She successfully embodies the complexity of her character, evoking several different emotions in the viewer, including laughter, frustration, and irritation.

Eirik Saether also delivers a strong performance as Signe’s equally narcissistic boyfriend Thomas, with veterans Henrik Mestad, Andrea Bræin Hovig, and Anders Danielsen Lie appearing in small, enjoyable guest roles.

Interesting then that Borgli has chosen not to give Signe a single sympathetic character trait, making her simply hard to like. As the protagonist increasingly loses herself in the search for the gaze of others, we feel little sympathy for Signe. As such, the story begins to feel a little drawn out in the second half, repeating similar beats.

That said, while SICK OF MYSELF makes for bleak viewing in parts, it lands relatively well, and there are as many laugh-out-loud moments as there are shocking ones. It also serves as a poignant social commentary about society’s relentless battle for attention.

SICK OF MYSELF runs at the BFI London Film Festival 2022 on 6 October.