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Swedish Auto (2006)

SWEDISH AUTO is the dramatic story of a small-town mechanic who voyeuristically observes life from the shadows. When he discovers that a young woman is similarly watching him, he is ... See full summary »

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2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview:
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Carter
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Darla
Gordon Bass ...
Lawyer
Anne Brown ...
Ruth
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Ann
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Shelley (as Tim De Zarn)
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Cook
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Pam
Jonathan Orcutt ...
Wrecker Driver
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Leroy
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Bobby
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Storyline

SWEDISH AUTO is the dramatic story of a small-town mechanic who voyeuristically observes life from the shadows. When he discovers that a young woman is similarly watching him, he is compelled to confront a world that he has always avoided. Written by Anonymous

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Plot Keywords:

mechanic | swedish | auto | voyeur | See All (4) »

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Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

27 June 2006 (USA)  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$700,000 (estimated)
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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Sweet little gem that will warm your heart
17 October 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I attended the East Coast premiere of "Swedish Auto" at the Woodstock Film Festival. I knew precious little about this film going in, and that's often best, because it means that one can be surprised but never disappointed. And what a sweet surprise this was. Carter (Lukas Haas) spends day after monotonous day as a mechanic in a local Swedish auto repair shop. Every 24 hours are the same, as are the faces which he sees from morning until night. Leroy (Lee Weaver) and his son Bobby (Chris Williams) run the shop. Darla (January Jones) serves up lunch at the local sandwich shop. And there's Ann (Brianne Davis), the gifted young violinist whom Carter stalks nightly. Hmm...was that a double take on your part? Well, perhaps "stalks" is a bit harsh, but there's really no other word for it. After all, Carter lives on the other side of the tracks (literally -- he has to step over them to get past his door) and fair maidens don't often cross his path. Meanwhile, Darla is secretly watching him in his nightly travels. This voyeuristic setup is the stuff of which mysteries are made. But this is far from it. Love triangle? Not quite. For this is truly an original film that has indie written all over it, in both style and substance, and has elements of drama and comedy and wonder and twists and turns galore. In short, life itself.

If you love indies you'll smile as the opening credits roll. Shot in 1.85:1, you know this will be a character-driven film all the way. No widescreen pretensions here. Using mostly natural lighting and a grainy film stock, "Swedish Auto" has the look of a home movie, in only the most complimentary sense. The characters are always softly lit to allow the acting to shine through. The sweet violin-based score is just sparse enough, yet always just appropriate enough, to know when to stay out of the way. Dialogue is kept to a minimum, especially in the early character development. Those three elements force a focus on these young folks' faces, and so much of this script is told through Haas and Jones' incredibly expressive eyes. What a casting coup all around.

As the characters become voyeurs, so do we, with the occasional hand-held shot. But this is a simple story at its heart, and needs no hi-tech, no special effects or whiz bang edits, no provocative camera angles so favored by many indie filmmakers. The Virginia countryside that serves as the setting is breathtaking, while the gritty, unhurried blue collar town in which the protagonists live and work reflects the unhurried nature of the film itself.

It's hard to go wrong with these brilliant actors, in such carefully-chosen locations, with such a nuanced, emotional score, and Derek Sieg's story brings it all together. In the Q&A after the film, Sieg revealed that Jones was originally under consideration for Ann, the blonde of Carter's desires. But as Darla she is so at ease in the skin of the lost, lonely girl who just may need an equally lost, lonely boy to show her what love is. January Jones is someone to watch for. A true veteran just barely out of his 20's, Haas is well-known to most film-goers. From his stunning performance at the tender age of 8 in "Witness" to his gritty portrayal of Buzz in the upcoming "Alpha Dog" (I saw it at Sundance and it's not to be missed) Haas has firmly planted his flag on the landscape of American cinema and his brilliant performance here shouldn't surprise those who've seen his work. If you haven't, he will hook you and reel you in. Derek Sieg's "Swedish Auto" is a sweet little gem, a delightful surprise that warmed my heart as it will yours.


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