Syskonsalt (TV Movie 2000) Poster

(2000 TV Movie)

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Love it or hate it
Lacrimosa23 October 2000
Yes, this is a movie that you either love or hate. I loved it, but my friends were sickened by it. It's a very strong love-story between Linus and Vanja, and as Vanja said it: "You are my perfect half and the mistake is that I was born as your sister". The lines are touching, and the actors are very good. The woman who wrote it was also very good, and I have a faint memory of this being her first movie.

But the incestuous theme disturbs many; the siblings loving each other, the mother wanting her son...If you can't watch such, then avoid this movie! But it sure is one of my favorites...
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Can love be wrong?
wavemaninawe12 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I caught wind of this play a few years ago and had planned on watching it, but then got sidetracked by other matters. Cue me finding the filmed for TV adaption a few years later.

Syskonsalt (Sibling Salt) is a stage play by play writer Jonna Nordenskiöld which was filmed by director Linus Tunström. It deals with the highly controversial subject of an incestuous relationship between a teenage brother and sister.

During the brief introduction, it is established early that the two siblings Linus (played by Daniel Larsson) and Vanja (played by Lina Englund) are very close out of necessity. Flashbacks to their earlier childhood reveal that their father was absent and their mother who works nights at a hotel, would regularly leave them unattended for long periods with only each other for company.

Moving on to the present day, 19 year old Linus is preparing for his driver's license exam as 17 year old Vanja comes into his room and offers to help him study. It is made clear that their relationship is somewhat out of the ordinary as Vanja climbs into bed with Linus and asks him to take off his shirt so that she can quiz him by tracing traffic signs on his naked back. Their mother, Eva (played by Chatarina Larsson) comes home abruptly and questions this scene which she finds odd, but doesn't pay particularly much mind to.

From there on, the theme is gradually build up through the everyday interaction between Linus and Vanja. An interaction which is laced with plenty of longing glances as well as sexual and romantic innuendos that are played off as jokes. There is an obvious unresolved sexual tension between the two that eventually reaches it's logical extreme as they both admit their long pent up feelings and have intercourse with each other.

This causes much distress as well as a deeper connection between the two who realize that their lives together can never again be the same.

First off, I would like to say that I found the acting to be terrific throughout parts of this film. Being a Swede and used to the Swedish tradition of acting, I commonly consider our actors to be stuck in theater mode and unable to handle the more subtle nuances of working in front of a camera. Not so much here.

Although I did find the first third playing out somewhat awkwardly, I can appreciate how difficult it must be to write a just but still dramatically captivating story on such a sensitive topic.

However, once Linus and Vanja have had their first sexual encounter the story finds it's ground. From that point I consider the pacing and ambiance to be spot on as they try to deal with the emotional aftermath of their actions.

The entire story involves only three people and takes place within the confines of their home. As such it is very minimalistic and depends entirely on the portrayal of the characters in order to carry it's atmosphere. In that regard, I think the film did admirably. I felt that the plight of Linus and Vanja was fleshed out well. Although Eva (the mother) being a peripheral character, had a small part in the film, I also think she made a big impact for the part she played.

There are some things that didn't sit well with me though. Not from a moral point of view, but rather because I felt that those decisions hurt the ambiance and momentarily brought me out of the story. Most notably is the way that a choice few of the young lovers' comments of affection are downright creepy and seem out of character to how they are otherwise portrayed. With those details out of the way, I think this would have earned a full rating from me.

Considering the controversial subject matter, it is hardly surprising if Syskonsalt has been shunned by many potential viewers. But I think that it is a very worthwhile watch regardless of your ethical orientation on the matter. The behavior of the siblings is neither condemned nor condoned and the film never tries to tell you what to think of them. Rather it is at it's most basic level, a story of a tragic couple who share a passionate love against impossible odds. And it is a very captivating one at that.
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