Knight of Fortune (2022) Short Film Review

Knight of Fortune (2022)
Director: Lasse Lyskjær Noer
Screenwriter: Lasse Lyskjær Noer
Starring: Leif Andrée, Jens Jørn Spottag, Jesper Lohmann

Danish short film Knight of Fortune (aka Ridder Lykke) is 2024’s most off-kilter Live Action Short nominee at the Oscars, Lasse Lyskjær Noer’s project confronting grief with a darkly humorous perspective and thus gifting us 26 minutes of smirk-worthy fun that stands out from the rest of the pack.

Swedish actor Leif Andrée is Karl, a recent widower who is visiting the chapel to say goodbye to his dead wife before her burial at an undetermined moment in the future. He is warned in a particularly rehearsed manner by Jesper Lohmann’s Portør that his wife’s mouth may slant to the side a little, and that her skin may appear more yellow than usual, but that this is all “normal for a dead body”.

Karl can’t face it, however, and becomes distracted by the flickering light that sits in the barren room with his wife’s coffin. To set the tone of the piece, the light falls to a destructive death once he tries to fix it. It’s that kind of film.

Karl accidentally gets emotionally blackmailed into supporting Torben (Jens Jørn Spottag) in his own goodbye ceremony for his wife, only the woman Torben is saying goodbye to isn’t even his wife and the family of that woman enter the room as Karl and Torben are looking down at her dead body. We discover some of the reasons for this unusual circumstance as the film goes on, and Karl searches for ways to open his wife’s coffin and confront his own grim reality, in a film that is purposeful and relatable without being necessarily moving, that is dark but not grim, that raises a smile but doesn’t have you laughing out loud.

Screenwriter-director Lasse Lyskjær Noer has virtually come out of nowhere to enter this year’s Oscars race, his only previous credit being as director to a music video. His work here is unique in tone and in its application of style, the film looking every bit the part as an Oscars nominee from a visual film language perspective. A strong comedic sensibility underpins the director’s work in the edit and his choice of a wide range of camera angles. He also gets some really strong performances out of his cast, ensuring that the messaging and the comedy land in equal measure. In a category that features the work of Wes Anderson, debut short director Noer ensures that his work is noteworthy and individualistic in its own right, which is quite the achievement.

This isn’t a short film that actively looks to bend or break rules, and it doesn’t seem too preoccupied with attempting to send a strong political message or to work as a piece advertising each of the crew’s talents. It is, instead, a singular vision brought to vivid life on the back of the darkly humorous underbelly of grief and trauma, and it works to that end. You won’t watch Knight of Fortune and be blown away from the first frame as is the case with fellow nominee Invincible, but it will grow into a beast of its own ready to play with your expectations but remain attached to high filmmaking standards.

Knight of Fortune follows in the footsteps of many an off-kilter Scandinavian black comedy to present its own unique tale at the 96th Academy Awards. It’s a film that showcases the talents of its writer-director, and stands out from the pack, but won’t ask you to invest too much emotionally to enjoy its relatively short run. If you like the kind of comedy that speaks thousands of words through a look or a cut, make sure you check out Knight of Fortune.

Score: 18/24

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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