Powerful human drama, beautifully wrapped in comedy
"Bornholms Stemme" is a perfect example of everything, that has gone right in Danish films in the last 5-10 years. It calls itself a 'folkekomedie' - a people's comedy. And that is exactly what it is.
Let me explain. The term 'folkekomedie' is also used to describe a vast array of old danish films, starring more or less the same people every time. While they are funny and charming, they ultimately are completely vacuous in terms of modern films. In this sense, 'folkekomedie' means 'comedy for the people'. Entertainment, nothing more.
"Bornholms stemme" is different. In its case, 'folkekomedie' means 'a comedy about ordinary people'. It is a slice of life. And it achieves this fantastically. And it's a lot more than just a vapid, pointless comedy.
The setting is Bornholm, a small fishing island off the coast of Sweden. In 1982, there was a no-fishing period imposed because of overfishing in the past. The film hones in on the fishing community at this time, and their struggle to adjust from being no-holds-barred fishermen with big incomes and finding new places in society.
Sounds boring? It's not. The film centers on Lars Erik, a fisherman. He is stubborn to the point of being self-destructive. His character has such stupid will power that it has to be seen to be believed. His main victim is his wife, who tries desperately to bring him down to the ground and convince him of the error of his ways. This is hardly easy (as we see in the tent scene during a storm, where Lars Erik's blind pig-headedness is in full show).
Inevitibly, this behaviour leads to tragedy. And it surely is - rarely have I seen such gripping human drama in a film before. Some people may even say that it goes overboard (no pun intended) but I think it works very well, on a real as well as an allegorical level. I won't say any more, just say that at some points the relationship between Lars Erik and his wife smacks of Romeo and Juliet! Not bad, huh?
The acting is good all-round, and even the bit-part characters manage to capture the bickering, sniggering, talk-behind-your-back feeling of a small community. There is real tension and real emotion between the characters.
I conclude: See this film if you get the chance. I hope somebody takes the time to subtitle this film with english, so it can be enjoyed outside of Denmark. It's worth it.
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