TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘My Life as a Comedian’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Film Festivals, Movies, TIFF 2019 by - September 06, 2019
TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘My Life as a Comedian’

In light of the discussions surrounding cancel culture and comedy, Rodja Sekersöz’s debut feature My Life as a Comedian is nothing if not peculiarly well timed. This story of a comedian attempting to reconcile with his troubling past, however, lands some of its punches, but not all.

Juha Lindström (Johan Rheborg) is one Sweden’s premier comedic talents; his set built entirely around a wistful vision of his early adolescent past. In actuality, young Juha (Loke Hellberg) is trapped in a liminal state between safety from cruel bullies, and being just one false step away from being their next target. Their current target is Juha’s friend Thomas (Teo Dellback), who Juha tries to feign distaste for in order to avoid the impending wrath.

My Life as a Comedian exists almost entirely in flashbacks, where an adult Juha interrogates the actions of his past self. This structure unfortunately puts most of the heavy lifting on young Juha’s story, which lacks the dramatic tension of the elder’s one. Both Juhas perform admirably in their roles, but young Juha is written to be little more than a cowardly and irritating dork. Adult Juha’s tortured guilt turns out to be far more compelling.

Thus, when the drama and darkness pick-up in the third act, it feels more rushed than painful. The final reveal regarding what really happened to Juha’s friends is shocking, but feels somewhat unearned. There’s a lot to recommend in the adult story line, but the kids were a more difficult in.

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Thomas Wishloff is currently an MA student at York University. He is new to the Toronto Film Scene, but has periodically written and podcasted for several now defunct ventures, and has probably commented on a forum with you at some point. The ex-Edmontonian has been known to enjoy a good board game, and claims to know the secret to the best popcorn in the world.
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