1001 Grams stars Ane Dahl Torp as Marie, an inspector at a government agency responsible for measuring the accuracy of everything from gas pumps at fueling stations to the bounce of sport balls. When Ane is selected to accompany Norway’s official kilo—which is kept in two glass bell jars and a concrete case—to an international conference that determines the weight of a true kilo, the experience causes her to evaluate her own life, which has recently been upended by an estranged husband and an ailing father.
Writer-director Bent Hamer may make a few visual jokes about the seriousness of the conference attendees who carry their kilos like babies, but he takes his central metaphor—that Ane is in the process of measuring and weighing her own life—very seriously. There are many helicopter shots in which the movie’s very geography is being measured, while the dialogue frequently references weight of some kind in baldly metaphorical terms. (At one point Ane is told, “Life’s heaviest burden is to have nothing to carry.”)
Metaphor can be a tricky thing. Handled well, it can lend a film a resonant air of poetry. Handled poorly and it can—to use 1001 Grams’ metaphorical language—weigh things down like a couple of kilos. Hamer manages some striking, blue-tinged imagery and Torp has a brittle bravery as Marie, but watching 1001 Grams mostly feels like carrying a bag of bricks.