Synopsis by Nathan Southern
With his coal-black comedy The Art of Negative Thinking, Norwegian director Bård Breien gleefully eviscerates the phony-baloney, "feel-good" psychoanalytic babble that is so often hurled thoughtlessly at the severely disabled. Breien's main character, National Health psychologist Tori (Kjersti Holmen), embodies this approach. All optimistic saccharine on the surface, but a steamroller underneath, she refuses to tolerate any pessimism, cynicism, depression, or anxiety from her patients. The latter include gorgeous Marta, a mountain climber almost completely paralyzed from a fall; her troubled paramour, Gard (Henrik Mestad), grappling with guilt thanks to his direct responsibility for the accident; Lillemor (Kari Simonsen), a shrill and obnoxious, sexagenarian divorcée saddled with a neck brace who constantly tossed the "sh*t bag" in therapy -- a tea cozy used as a means of disposal for her complaints; and Asbjørn (Per Schaaning), a bilious stroke victim. All of these patients can deal with Tori's irritating positivism -- more or less. But not so with Geirr (Fridtjov Saheim), a paraplegic from a traffic accident who spends his days drowning himself in booze, chain-smoking cigarettes, and listening to suicidally depressing Johnny Cash ballads. When Geirr's wife learns of Tori's methods and decides to bring the good doctor to the house to help rehabilitate her husband, it sets the stage for a take-no-prisoners battle of positive versus negative thinking, which threatens to explode into full-scale cataclysm.