|Index||10 reviews in total|
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
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.
I love how the movie treats the themes with delicacy. At some parts of
the movie, you just think the characters are probably insane, but they
are really captivating, well developed. The best parts about it are:
the music, the characters, the silences, and the themes.
It is a surprising movie. You start watching it thinking it will be some sort of creepy romance with, hopefully, a romantic ending, but it turns out to be so much more than that. It is funny because it shows an entirely different view of people, what we can expect from them, how we love and even the horrible situations we endure for loved ones.
I highly recommend it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Filmed in Virginia, the title derives from a couple of things. The main
character is a mechanic in a shop called 'Swedish Auto Repair', and
during the film the mechanic restores a 1967 Volvo, a Swedish car.
Judging by the small budget, no box office information, and very few
reviews I would guess not many saw this movie. I found it on Netflix
streaming movies and it is a delightful, different little movie.
Lukas Haas was a funny-looking kid and that helped him get roles that shot him to fame before he was 10 years old. Now that he has grown into a funny-looking man with large facial features it probably is hard to get 'leading man' roles, but this one suits him just fine. He makes the movie worth seeing.
Here he is just known as Carter , probably close to his real age, almost 30. He lost his parents to an accident when he was quite young and has been on his own for a while. He lives in a very spartan apartment that looks like a room in a warehouse, but appropriately appointed for a single guy. He works at Swedish Auto and seems to be the best mechanic there. The owner's adult son also works there but when he isn't having trouble with a task he has an excuse to be away from the job. His dad has to put up with it.
Carter overheard some nice violin music through an open window, played by a beautiful young blond lady, early 20s, and he fell in love with her from a distance, but in essence stalked her, 'happening' to be where he knew she would pass, watching her play at night from a roof. You could imagine his fantasy of some day the two of them meeting, falling in love, and living happily ever after.
In the meantime the three mechanics often took a lunch break at the local hamburger shop, and the nice girl waiting on them usually was January Jones as Darla . She had her own issues, namely a very sick mother and her mother's mean, abusive boyfriend, so she never was in a rush to get home in the evening. It became clear quickly that she had her eyes on Carter, and she ended up stalking him! Not in a dangerous way, but admiration stalking.
So the movie plays out with all of them dealing with their issues as best they could. The situations and dialog are interesting, a good study in human nature and dealing with issues and surprises.
SPOILERS: Carter and Darla do in fact get together, she actually is more in love with him than he is with her. In fact, when the pretty musician brings the car to the shop for work Carter actually meets her and is smitten all over. When he calmly relates this to Darla he is surprised she doesn't react. She explains, "You love her like an astronomer loves the moon. You can't really love someone without being with them face-to-face. I love you and you love me." She was sure. After the garage owner dies when a jack lets a car fall on him, the son gets the garage, he tells Carter he has to sell the Volvo he rebuilt, even though the old man had given it to Carter. All the situations are resolved, at least temporarily, when Carter takes the Volvo, then takes Darla and her mother away from the boyfriend and head out of town, ostensibly to start a new life. As they leave we see a flash of an explosion, the mean boyfriend had turned on the unlit kitchen stove burners to kill everyone but only he died when a spark ignited the gas.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you wonder what to do on a rainy night, then this might be just right. It is a slow, calm love story about two small town lonely souls. She is a waitress in a diner, he is a mechanic. They both lost their way and don't know how to communicate with people anymore. She - because is being abused by her father, and he- because he lost his family in a car accident. Eventually they overcome their fear of trusting someone - they start actually talking about their lives and fears and realize you can only fall in love with someone you know. Watching your life from a distance isn't a good option. You have to start living it, even in small portions. This said, the movie has its pro's and contra's: Pro's: - It is not overwhelmingly romantic cliché kind of love story. The actors make their characters very believable. Plus, you can really feel for them. The script is actually not surprising, but that doesn't mean its bad. It seems sincerely enough to intrigue you. Contra's: - It is a bit slow on places. Plus, I am a girl and even I can tell you Lukas Haas doesn't know a thing about cars (and he is playing a car mechanic, I mean - its not like a rocket science. He should have prepared better). The other thing I didn't like was the ending- its kind of a very corny, unreal ending to a very realistic and pragmatic view of the life of those people. It seems to me they didn't know how to end it, so they chose the easy way- but it just doesn't fit the whole movie. This said, as a whole the movie is a good debut of the director, Lukas Haas shows one more time he is a very good actor with lot of potential (that's why I like most of his movies!)and January Jones is very very very believable. She doesn't overact, which often happens when a beautiful actress has to play some small town "normal" girl.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I guess some people find these slow art flicks exciting. The sad downtrodden guy who can't seem to connect with anyone finally breaks out and finds out how to love. This film tries to do that, and fails miserably. First off I will say that the acting and cinematography are great, I just wish the story held up to the talent that was on the screen. When I heard that this was a new writer/director it didn't surprise me. The story lacks any immediacy until halfway through, and with this forward momentum virtually non-existent we are left watching Lukas Haas change tires and dig through car parts. At the end of the film (had I been able to stay awake), I am sure I could have tuned up my own Volvo.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Swedish AUTO (2006) *** Lukas Haas, January Jones, Lee Weaver, Chris
Williams, Mary Mara, Tim De Zarn, Brianne Davis.
Lukas Haas made his screen debut some 20 years ago as the innocent Amish boy who witnesses a brutal murder in the Harrison Ford drama, "WITNESS" and since then has made an impressive indie film career playing all sorts of characters - good and evil - with his soulful, expressive eyes doing most of the acting. In this small, modest and deceptively winning film he continues to do some of his finest work.
As the introspective, quiet auto mechanic specializing in Volvo repairs (invoking the innocuous title), Haas' Carter is a lonely, yet inquisitive sort who has no friends and family to speak of outside of his kindly elderly employer Leroy (Lee Weaver) and his son Bobby (Chris Williams) who share their luncheons with Carter at the local diner where Carter is secretly falling in love with the comely waitress Darla (January Jones) who is apparently unaware of her beau-in-waiting.
During his many empty evenings Carter follows and spies on the beautiful and equally quiet Darla unbeknownst of her would-be paramour who is also beguiled by a neighbor who plays enchanting violin. Carter can barely summon a conversation with anyone let alone express his desires and mulls his misery in silence.
When Carter sees an older man making illicit moves on Darla he presents her with a lovely gift - an assortment of Christmas lights on a clothes-hanger outside her window - prompting her to confront him. What Carter doesn't know is that Darla in fact has been following and spying on him! The two lonely hearts start a tender, odd romance while they have to deal with such issues as Darla's addict mother Pam (Mary Mara) whose junkie influences of morphine makes her a prisoner to her boyfriend Shelley (Tim De Zarn), who is dying and her connection to the drug, while making things painful for Darla's conflict of keeping watch on her mother's dwindling health while putting up with Shelley's streak of sadism. Carter meanwhile works out his frustrations by restoring a vintage Volvo, pipe dreaming of escaping from the idyllic little hamlet with Darla, but things are about to change drastically causing the couple to seriously dwell on their immediate futures.
Written and directed by novice filmmaker Derek Sieg, who has a career in film production - and according to the press kit provided confirms this as a semi- autobiographical work, makes a gentle film come alive with skillful modulation of maintaining character development and has a painterly viewpoint with a beguiling production design by Ruth DeJong, Richard Lopez' cinematographic palette of bruised blue/green/black schisms evoking the characters romantic melancholy and a keen editing job by Daniel A. Valverde (I was impressed how the climactic confrontation between Bobby and Carter framed the former out of frame suggesting more menace than in their conversation). The acting is universally solid with Haas giving a poignant performance equally balanced by Jones, a genuine surprise perhaps best known as Barry Pepper's long-suffering young bride in last year's "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada", makes Darla an empathetic yet smart character fully realized by the film's end.
Sieg echoes the work of Terrence Malick and new indie fave David Gordon Green and uses his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia to full effect making a unique and sweet film that should be sought out.
Carter (Lukas Haas) is a quiet mechanic working with two other guys.
Leroy (Lee Weaver) keeps trying to push him to do something while Bobby
(Chris Williams) just pushes him around. He starts to spy on violinist
Ann (Brianne Davis) but he finds that the waitress Darla (January
Jones) is spying on him in turn. Darla is afraid of her mom's abusive
boyfriend living with them while she can't leave her sick mom behind.
This one takes awhile to get going. Lukas Haas is playing the quiet shy guy yet again. He is great in these types of roles. January Jones is giving off a little bit of damaged mystery. I think her role is better for a mousy youngster to play. She's trying to portray shy but she can't escape her model looks. She does her best but I never got a solid feel for their chemistry. It's a little awkward. This small indie is the debut of writer/director Derek Sieg. It has a quiet dreary moody style. It's slow and maybe a little too slow. It shows some potential from this new filmmaker. There is some better drama later in the second half but it doesn't push as hard as it could have. Tim De Zarn plays the mom's boyfriend. He should have had more time to menace Darla and her mom. It's a little too quiet and never truly takes off.
Swedish Auto is a movie I found in a used DVD store and I have no regrets about buying it. I will say that for many movie goers it is slow and somewhat introspective. However, I stuck with it because I found the character of Carter, played by Lucas Haas, to be genuine and sincere. Carter is a withdrawn young man but is no dead-end kid. He has some excellent qualities; he's a talented mechanic who applies himself to his job. Ironically, he lost his family in a devastating car accident. He reads, watches movies and shows ambition to move beyond his limited surroundings. The owner of the auto shop appreciates his work ethic and encourages him to get a car. Carter shows interest in a decrepit old automobile that he plans to bring it back to life, i.e. the Swedish auto. Carter, who has taken to stalking two young women, sees this as a way of breaking out of his rut and finding a soul-mate. The young women are opposites: one is a concert musician and the other a working class girl from a troubled family, who Carter takes under his wing. This presents Carter with a dilemma. This soon resolves itself and he moves on with his life. We are left with an ambiguous ending but life often is like that.
'Swedish Auto' opens with an excruciatingly slow camera pan across the
yard of a Charlottesville auto-repair shop until the screen is filled
with the image of a young man sitting in the rusting hulk of a vintage
Volvo. This is Carter - a sensitive, greasy-haired loner who needs no
further introduction because IMDb cognoscenti will have met his
socially inept outsider cousins in numerous other Indie films. Carter's
life follows a regular routine - he rises early in his humble abode
beside the railroad tracks before heading off to his auto mechanic job.
At lunch-break Carter frequents a diner where he gazes ardently at
pertly demure waitress Darla, whom he lacks the courage to approach.
Carter's eccentricities come into full bloom at dusk - after shutting
up the workshop, he habitually stalks a beautiful young violinist from
UVA's music school back to her apartment, and observes the girl's
practice sessions until she retires for the night. Eventually Carter
gets around to stalking Darla back to her own home, where his
voyeuristic skills reveal she is being terrorized by her junkie
mother's abusive boyfriend. In due course events conspire to break the
ice for the shy twosome, and they subsequently embark on a lukewarm
Writer/director Derek Sieg struggles to keep his clichéd clunker on the road as Carter begins restoring the vintage Volvo to a gleaming ride fit for his oddball prince and waitress princess. Unfortunately, tedium and implausibility result in total engine seizure long before the film's road-trip conclusion with multiple loose ends fluttering in the slipstream. One suspects that flashing blue lights will shortly appear in 'Swedish Auto's' rear-view mirror, but happily that story is for another day.
I saw Swedish Auto in "Opening Nights",Athens' international film festival, and I was really disappointed with it!It was supposed to be a boy meets girl movie which despite not having such a great script, allows you to get lost in the romance and atmosphere of the couple and the surrounding...I think the director really tried to create a film influenced by European cinematography(as he also admitted) but...he only tried!The script is really annoying from time to time.It is mostly typical!Being the director's first film and script, the plot is nothing more than a boy meets a girl-they both have problems-the boy fixes a car-the boy saves the girl and her mother from the evil stepfather or boyfriend or whatever.It is nothing more than a typical American story covered with wanna be European cinematography... What is there to notice only is the challenging performance of Lukas Haas and January Jones and a sympathetic soundtrack.
|External reviews||Parents Guide||Official site|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|