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This is film as slow poetry. The style and lighting, pace and music all
combine to produce a tremendous sense of presence. A beautifully shot
and realized film about a difficult subject - how families cope after
sudden loss - is handled in a meaningful and authentic way. It is NOT
maudlin, or sentimental - it is rather honest, direct, and very
What lies at the center of Underbara Älskade is an authenticity that lends much to Von Trier and has even hints of Dogme. Yet it is highly accessible and watchable - provided that you admire the pace for what it is - one of the key skills is that the gaps are the power center of the conversations and here Mikael Nyqvist is at his usual best - he is truly skilled at acting for film - the smallest gesture or pause.
Johan Brisinger likes exploring the recovery of human beings (His other film En Del av Mitt Hjärta covers much of the same territory). Underbara Älskade is a film of moments and vignettes - one of the overall pluses has to be the excellent cinematography, color grading etc; it is extremely beautifully shot, emphasizing the Swedish color scheme of greys, blues, and whites to very good effect.
The setting on the Swedish island of Härmanö part of the Gullholmen Archipelago is perfect and adds much to the overall beauty.
The story is a simple one: a the beginning of the film Lasse (Mikael Nykvist) crashes the family car on a country road killing his wife and youngest boy. The older boy Jonas (Anastasios Soulis) and he nearly a year later make the trip to their summer cottage off the Stockhom Archipelago. Here Lasse and Jonas fall in an easy summer relationship. Jonas meets a free spirit in the older Helena (Moa Gammel).
The pace never seems to alter - but the healing process is slowly evident - as people learn to be themselves - but at the center lies an honesty that is all too rare in film. It looks and feels very Swedish - and really looks like contemporary Sweden - from the coffee cups to Helena's style - and this is no bad thing.
While not a total success it is a surprisingly easy and rewarding watch.
Definitely worth viewing for its quiet contemplative elegiac approach - a real gem in its simplicity and loveliness.
SUDDENLY ('Underbara Älskade') is a delicate little Swedish film by
first time writer/director Johan Brisinger (with assistance from Mikael
Bengtsson) from 2006 that is appearing now as a foreign film on demand
on television: hopefully enough people will see it to encourage the
powers that be to release a compatible DVD format in the USA. As with
many Swedish films the beauty of the country adds enormously to the
story, especially when the story takes place during the exquisitely
beautiful midsummer's eve. Cinematographer Henrik Stenberg captures
that special quality of light that illuminates the vastness of the
countryside and allows that light to provide the atmosphere in which
the interaction of the actors takes place.
At the opening of the film we find a happy family of four - mother father, two young boys - preparing for a weekend excursion: once in the car accident happens and the mother and younger son are killed, leaving the older son Jonas (Anastasios) injured to the point of permanent wounds and the father Lasse (Michael Nyquist) as survivors. The film jumps nine months into the future and father and son are in a tenuous relationship, each dealing with grief: Lasse feels guilt for the accident (unjustified) and drinks and sleeps to escape his duties as a doctor while Jonas tries to cope with both his own grief and trying to help his father find stability. Lasse attempts suicide and Jonas' grandparents Ingegerd (Anita Wall) and Sven (Sten Ljunggren) lovingly offer to take care of Jonas until Lasse can find help and recover form his depression. But Lasse wants to keep Jonas so they decide to move to their summer home in Gothenburg. Once there, Lasse finds a degree of solace in his relationship with his friends Simon (Philip Zanden) and his wife Lotta (Catherine Hansson) and the threesome spend quality time and party time together: Lasse finds even more comfort from Lotta in a physical relationship as Lotta feels Simon does not supply her emotional or physical needs. Jonas encounters a freespirited girl named Helena (Moa Gammel) and they two bruised youngsters nurture each other - Helena is Jason's first sexual encounter.
Father and son are unable to communicate about their loss and the accident. The grandparents visit for Midsummer's Eve celebration, Lasse drinks himself into oblivion, and Jonas discovers his father's rowboat burning in the cove nearby and thinking that Lasse is dead, an awakening occurs that helps the father and son begin to repair the damage that their mutual grief has created.
The actors are superb, especially Nyquist as the tortured father. Other particularly strong characterizations are offered by the very beautiful Anita Wall as the grandmother and Sten Ljunggren as the grandfather. The musical score is by Henrik Lörstad who includes piano music by Franz Liszt (Consolations I) and the 'Soave sia il venta' from Mozart's 'Così fan tutte' with Renee Fleming, Anne Sofie von Otter and Michele Pertusi conducted by Solti. Every moment of this film is created with great attention to detail and the result is a movie that is deeply touching as well as physically beautiful.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a film about guilt and catharsis.
Jonas and his father survive a car accident that kills both the mother and brother of Jonas. He and his father, who was behind the wheel, must find a way to move on. The father decides to move to a natural surrounding in the archipelago to find healing in the midnight sun. Both he and Jonas meet the angel who can redeem them.
The father is memorable in his guilt-ridden grief, but most memorable is Moa Gammel who, in her role as Helena, portrays perhaps by far the most desirable Swedish blonde since Bibi Andersson. It is unreal that it takes Jonas most of the film to succumb.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
My post contains extreme spoilers, be warned. Mostly because if I
summarize the whole movie, I'll be doing you a favor.
Movie revolves around a father and son dealing with the loss of his son and wife, that die during an accident.
The entire film is them on vacation, trying to forget the bad.
Jonas, the son, meets a really hot girl on the beach, that, despite being so attractive, has no friends throughout the entire movie, and spends too much time stalking Jonas and hanging with him at her house, all day.
Jonas is a completely unlikable character, both from our point of view and the girls; he hardly speaks, says nothing interesting, and only talks about how him and his dad never talk. All the girl does is tell him to talk to his dad, and get over the loss of his mom and brother. At times I had to pause the movie and go job a mile, just to stay awake. Jonas is just unbelievable dull and has no charisma or personality, no one can feel sorry for the character.
There is no real conversation for 70 percent of this movie; just people complaining to other people about their dead family, and the man and son lashing out on anyone that mentions the past if it's related to the dead son and mom, even if they just bring up a "Wedding", the dad starts to cry and yell.
Slow paced, frustrating dialog(or whine-alog) and no satisfactory story or ending. Avoid it. It could be a 20 minute short film if you cut out all the dead air and repetitive "my families dead and it really sux" talk.
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