Playing TIFF 2021, Bent Hamer’s The Middle Man offers a uniquely absurd-yet-emotional take on the denizens of a small town.
Shot like a film noir, the darkly comedic movie centres on the lonely but affable Frank (Kon-Tiki’s Pål Sverre Hagen), a gent who has just been named the “middle man” in a dying town full of accident-prone citizens. Frank’s task is to deliver news about the deaths of loved ones to the town’s residents. Searching for meaningful connection with others, Frank finds himself falling for receptionist Brenda (Tuva Novotny), all while dealing with his arch-nemesis and juggling the personalities of city hall bureaucrats.
Featuring a cavalcade of Canadian actors like Paul Gross, Don McKellar and Rossif Sutherland, The Middle Man never fails to charm. There is heavy subject matter at hand, but the film balances its sadness with Hagen’s charming performance as Frank. It’s just impossible not to root for the immensely likeable Frank, who only wants to do his best despite his own personal setbacks.
A multi-country co-production between Norway, Canada, Germany, and Denmark, The Middle Man most closely resembles Danish oddball films like The Green Butchers or Flickering Lights in terms of tone. It’s no surprise to see Adam’s Apples and Men & Chicken‘s Nicolas Bro here in a supporting role, so take note Danish film fans as The Middle Man should not be missed.
The Middle Man has multiple in-person and digital screenings during TIFF.