All the way from Sweden comes Mousse, a short and bizarre crime comedy. In a matter of 40 minutes, a convenience store robbery deescalates into Python-esque levels of absurdity. The results are hilarious.
On the day of a major horse race, French immigrant Mousse (Stéphane Bertola) steps into a tobacco store and holds store owner Washington (Roberto Gonzalez) and customer Maggan (Marienette Dahlin) at gun point. Fed up with Sweden, Mousse demands getaway cars for him and his friend Lucien (Göran Åman) and a flight out of the country.
But things aren’t going to be easy for him. First is the language gap. Since Mousse can’t speak Swedish, he needs Washington as a translator. Too bad Washington’s too busy arguing with Maggan over a horse race ticket. If that wasn’t enough, the cops are so inept they can barely work a megaphone. Lucien’s no help, being so drunk he can barely move. It all turns into the most unbearable moment of his life, and he’s been a dishwasher on a ship for 15 years.
Writer/Director John Hellberg blends over the top absurdity with grounded realism to create this unusual yet hilarious film. The absurdity comes from the incompetence of the cops, who spend their time telling bad jokes on the megaphone while awaiting Mousse’s demands. Even the frustrated Mousse adds to the absurdity with his insane demands. Crime films often have robbers demanding a getaway but rarely do they give an exact make and model, right down to the year. That isn’t even the most insane demand Mousse gives. And then a rooster appears in front of the store. No reason. It’s just there.
The realism comes from the tone. Hellberg and cinematographer Johan Helmer gives the world a grounded feel with its muted colours and lived in settings. Though the characters are a bit over the top, the actors keep their characters just grounded enough to be believable. And let’s face it; you’ve most likely heard crime stories almost as hilariously insane.
Later in the film, we get a flashback to his time as a dishwasher on the ship. This gives a glimpse towards the resentment he seems to feel towards this country. I don’t know if this film’s trying to say something about immigration and if it does, the message doesn’t come clear. Sure, the way he and Lucien are treated badly, but it doesn’t seem like enough to justify him taking it out on the whole country.
Despite the last part, the film still takes pleasure in its droll surrealism. The contradictory combination of grounded cinematography and surreal writing shouldn’t work, and yet Mousse makes them work to bring on the laughs.