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Daniel Lind Lagerlöf
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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 watchable.
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.
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