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To get an order for 1,000 yachts from a middle-east sheik, two boat companies have to race 'Göta Kanal', a canal through Sweden, east to west. There are no rules in this game and the winner gets the order.
Stig Ossian Ericson
Ever since seeing the trailer earlier this year, I had been looking forward to seeing Farsan, the latest feature of the Lebanese-Swedish director Josef Fares. I have enjoyed all of his films that I have seen so far, from the comedic Jalla! Jalla! and Kopps to the more serious Zozo, and Farsan doesn't disappoint either.
Like many other Fares films, Farsan deals with immigrants in Sweden, even though the outsider's point of view is much less pronounced this time than in, say, Zozo. Aziz (Jan Fares) is a middle-aged widower who works in a bicycle store and eagerly waits for the birth of his first grandchild. However, his son Sami (Hamadi Khemiri) and daughter-in-law Amanda (Nina Zanjani) haven't dared to tell him that she is not really pregnant and that they are actually planning to adopt a child instead. After Sami suggests that his father should find a woman in his life to distract him from the baby issue, Aziz starts looking for potential wife candidates with the help of his two colleagues, the shy Jörgen (Torkel Petersson) and the laid-back Juan (Juan Rodríguez).
The film's main charm lies more in the lovable characters and performances than in outlandish situations, even though the comedic scenes are very funny at best, especially Aziz training Jörgen to be manlier and teaching a lesson to an irate customer skilled in kung fu. The general tone of the film is closer to drama than comedy, so a lot of attention is paid to fleshing the supporting characters out in addition to advancing the main storyline. Aziz's colleagues have their own troubles that reflect those of the main characters: Juan must learn to let go of his old dying dog much like Aziz must get over the death of his dear deceased wife. In turn, Jörgen has to overcome his marital insecurity, not unlike Sami who is trying to find the courage to reveal the truth about his future child to his father.
The director's own father Jan Fares does an excellent job as the eponymous dad; I loved the sense of vulnerability he conveys under his seemingly cheery and self-confident appearance. Torkel Petersson is more openly comedic as the emasculated Jörgen but also sends melancholic vibes through his role, perhaps acting as a symbol of sorts for the meek Swedish man in the increasingly demanding modern society. The storyline of Juan and his old Labrador retriever Dino is the most wistful one and may well bring a tear or two to dog lovers' eyes.
By including so many different emotions and details in one 97-minute movie, Josef Fares has certainly once again succeeded in delivering an enjoyable cinematic experience. I'm surprised to see it having only a mediocre rating on IMDb (5.6/10 with 657 votes at the time of writing this); I don't feel there are too many plot lines or that the Jörgen type of character has already been done too many times in other movies as indicated by some reviews I've read. Personally, I urge everyone to see the movie that will hopefully gain attention outside Sweden as well.
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