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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I wonder what Swedes might think about this movie.
Nevertheless, a good movie it is not, but that is not to hint it's a bad
either. I was struggling throughout the two hours to find the basis to the
plot that would make it so meaningful. But I failed. It just doesn't make
too much sense. So many small details that make or break a thriller just
didn't stick together. Examples (beware - spoilers ahead!):
Missing crucial fact: In the end - were Maria and Stephan who presumably were Yugoslavian refugees (it is never said so I cannot guess their exact nationalities) real terrorists or innocent refugees? The choice of her name Maria suggest they were indeed just refugees.
Choice of a plot: Indeed in the end the couple is given the right to stay in Sweden. So why have them die?! Was it truly necessary for the plot? They die jumping into the water what an odd way to terminally kill a couple! and while that is a total No-No in American movies - don't these "foreigners" end up being - like in American movies - the expendable ones? Even in this movie they hardly speak their native tongue, we are told so little about them and the only time we see an authentic entity is when Maria sings a Christmas carol in whatever language she spoke. Throughout the movie these foreigners are consistently ignored and deceived (maybe for their own good, but still) by their own saviors. They are just there and are talked to in the simplest English "no go", "go in car" without ever asking how they feel. This leaves me with a bitter taste - the movie is anti-racism yet utilizes the same attitude towards its lead foreigners.
Unnecessary odd details: And when the Swedish "nazis" perform the mock trial to Maria and her helpers and then taunt her by shoving Mikael between her legs was it necessary to have Mikael admit Ingrid that he had a hard-on and to have him confess that he indeed rape Maria "unwillingly"? A symbol of the `good' Swedes screwing over. Literally, the refugees?
Bad math: We are told that Kund - the Danish old guy that would show up with his boat to save the couple is 76 years old and that he was an officer in the Spanish war (i.e. he was at least 20 in 1936). But that would mean that the movie took place in 1992, but the cellular phones that abound the screen tell it must be about 1996. Oh, so he was a 16 year-old officer in the Spanish War?!
Motives that don't exist: The motives that make the Swedish `good people' in the movie help the refugees remain unclear. Erik's character is another riddle a rebellious army officer (who apparently served in the Balkans) clashes with the local Nazis who come to his isolated cottage to warn him about some unclear matter And why did he leave his family? If he had on the basis of a bad marriage (his wife has a lover) why are we shown in a disgustingly voyeuristic manner that he tries to warm things us sexually with his ex-wife (or something of that status)?
Lack of financial, parental and emotional concerns: How come Mikael and Catti allow these people whom they have never seen before mutilate their Volvo to the point it is left in the empty field? This couple suffers a tremendous losses of money, time and sleep, all to save a couple they hardly knew anything about and while schlepping their own one week old baby across moors and in a December chilling weather! Why doesn't Catti insists that she calls her husband but would do so only 2 days later, after leaving Erik drunk in the Jeep?
Down to it, the plot is not a plausible one, the motives to the characters' actions are very thin at best, basic facts that are given to us are just contradictory to the common sense and the end is just horrific in the choices made by the screenwriter. Sweden is shown as a police state the police has never been so efficient as in this movie, but while policemen are so good at catching the good guys, they never bother with the hoodlums (the `nazis') that torture and Maria and the others. References to the holocaust and the Christian tradition do not elevate the story, but rather make it silly. And then Catti and Stefan end up with Erik in a `battlefield' (an army exercise) just so Catti gets to feel how a war feels like
Good things about the movie: interesting characters (no motives, did I mention it?), effective score and overall good production value. So what if the story doesn't make sense?! Seems to me like a lot of good talents were lost in a crippling self-righteous script. Coming to think of it if Sweden would be so violent and dictatorial I don't understand why Maria and Stefan would be so anxious to stay there.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Something went terribly wrong with this movie. The acting was good,
there was plenty of action and the musical backing excellent. So what
went wrong? It must have been the script. Or may be it was the editing.
So many of the necessary details just weren't there. As a consequence I
really couldn't understand what was going on.
Sweden it seems has (like most other countries) a dread of illegal immigrants. The Swedes believe ( like most of us) that foreigners just can't be trusted so we close the gates on them and keep them out at all costs.
Dodging the police on a nightmare journey Catti and Michael (illegally in Sweden) are hampered by their little bundle of joy. I got quite tired just watching the babies being lumbered around from cabin to car and car to cabin across fields deep in mud and sometimes under gun fire. (Not a good start in life for the little ones) Running with the babies in their arms takes up quite a lot of the film.
As for the melodramatic ending. It was just too much. Was it a spur of the moment decision to cut life short in this way? Was there no alternative? If they had only waited a few more seconds......
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