I am not a narcissist…

By Smaranda Mihăilă

I have always admired artists who are brave enough to express the horrible things everyone is thinking for themselves but deny out loud. The Norwegian film director Kristoffer Bogli does just that in his 2022 film, Sick of Myself: by finding the fine line between comedy and horror, he brilliantly portrays the daunting and worrying extreme to which people are willing to go just to be acknowledged and claim their ‘rightfully’ deserved place within a higher social milieu. 

Sick of Myself is a beautiful film that portrays horrible things. It tells the story of a toxic relationship between a Norwegian couple, Thomas and Signe, whose motivation seems to be competing for fame and their friends’ attention at the expense of overshadowing one another. Thomas is an ‘artist’ who steals the artwork displayed in his installations and, once he has a breakthrough with a big art gallery, he is seemingly on his way to success. He becomes obsessed with his work and so caught up in creating an image for himself that instead he creates a competitive environment within his relationship with Signe, who dreads not being in the spotlight. Driven by an unnatural and toxic narcissism, she begins manipulating every situation to her favour, only so she can get everyone to notice and appreciate her manufactured talent and acts of bravery.

What I found intriguing in a lot of the recent films I have seen is the growing interest in morally corrupt and self-destructive characters. It seems more and more people turn to film fiction as sort of a cathartic way to innocently act out to an extreme the not-so-good thoughts that cross their minds. Sick of Myself’s protagonist, Signe, embodies just that: she is a narcissist who explores and crosses the boundaries of what being a narcissist could result in, without considering the consequences of her actions and focusing solely on being noticed. I partly identified with Signe and absolutely hated her at the same time.

The audacity and ridiculousness her character embodies have disgusted me and made me laugh at the same. But they also made me take a look at myself and my narcissistic thoughts and tendencies and realize that if some of these thoughts that I often dismiss as normal were to be acted out, I wouldn’t be so different from her. 

This was just my experience of the film, and I assume a lot of people would disagree with me and completely take Signe as a made-up character with whom they would never find anything in common. Even so, Sick of Myself is definitely worth watching if you enjoy films that take a deep dive into ‘unusual’ characters’ psyches and explore toxic traits and self-destructive tendencies taken to a ridiculous extreme.

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