An astute observation based on real cases of bullying. In central Gothenburg, Sweden, a group of boys, aged 12-14, robbed other children on about 40 occasions between 2006 and 2008. The ... See full summary »
It's almost summer in Sweden and minor indiscretions and misbehavior abound. Leffe likes to show off for his friends and play salacious pranks, especially when he's drinking. Meanwhile, a righteous grade-school teacher doesn't know where to draw the line: she insists her fellow educators need a bit of instruction. Then there are two young teenage girls who like to pose for sexy photos and to party, but one night in a park, one of them is found passed out drunk by a complete stranger.Written by
Cannes Film Festival
Impressive and immersive, despite its approach to its material, film looking to dot the I's and cross the T's in regards to an array of seemingly random modern-day Swedes.
Involuntary is the rather brilliant in places, fascinating throughout, Swedish drama which takes its lead from something like Short Cuts, or the more recent Babel or Crash, and explores the lives and times of a handful of disparates the film believes are, in actual fact, connected by an underlying item or theme. The film attains a similarly sized level of accomplishment to those examples, in what is a piece that probably weaves in and out of more plights featuring more people to that of the mentioned films, but comes out just as much-a worthwhile effort. The good news is, above all else, that it's a lot shorter than something like Magnolia, and as a result, a Hell of a lot more interesting for more of the time.
Principally, the film is a study of human behaviour once the individual has reached a certain point in one's life that either comes about naturally through either the body or mind's transition, or is born out of chance encounters people with established jobs or roles happen to stumble upon. This behaviour is as such which has the power to overbear certain proceedings in a person's life on one strand of the film, but is able worm its way into the life of another on another wholly disconnected strand, albeit on a smaller scale, as something else takes precedence – that item itself usually a theme on a lower echelon in the life of the previous example. In exploring the thesis, the writer/director Ruben Östlund is able to meld together a fascinating series of what are effectively short stories; stories shot statically with an aesthetic resembling that of a close circuit television camera, often anonymising others in the frame but accentuating degrees of unbearableness, resulting in the film being really quite something.
Take, for instance, the scene in which what one might perceive to be a lowly coach driver becoming rather taken by the power that he has over his passengers. The driver is established to be a careful man, whom slowly plods his coach down the motorways to ensure the safety of his customers; open minded and sociable, he speaks with the tour guide beside him as he drives. Having driven them into the rural areas of absolutely nowhere, the driver will not take them away from there again until somebody owns up over the breakage of a rail in the coach's toilet compartment - because it is his family's business, and the expense comes out of his own balance, it riles him and equates to everyone being held somewhat as hostages.
Many miles away in a school, a woodwork teacher himself becomes besotted with the power that he happens to have over a class of kids - the thematic link resonating. His hitting of a misbehaving child and the believing of that to be a proper punishment is witnessed by a female teacher whom has similar degrees of power over other classes of kids. This female teacher does not need to resort to such manners of discipline; providing them with daily exercises that engage them at the front of the class more than any woodwork apparently does – even allowing them to expresses the desires to act out or shout out or whatever by permitting them thirty seconds of classroom time to scream and bang the tables as much as they like. Linked by that illusion of power turning people into those that they become, both stories are at once wholly disconnected in a binary sense in regards to location and the nature of those victimised, yet are at once intrinsically linked by a thematic chain running throughout the film.
In another two different strands of the film, the covering of burgeoning sexuality takes centre stage; two strands that are again disconnected from one another in a binary sense of gender and age the transition of sexual inclinations, but indelibly linked by a common thematic of coming to terms with one's urges towards sexual orientation. One strand is made up of a group of oafish men in their mid-thirties; men away together on a weekend holiday that resembles a stag night without anybody in the pack actually getting married. In the beginnings, the men speak to one another pompously and openly about automobiles and how cars are great and how fantastic their new cars are, tapping into that deeply heterosexual characteristic built on the myth of men and their motors insinuating "manliness". Throughout the course of this time spent together, the film opens up routes leading to a homo-erotic relationship shared between the half-dozen or so of them; their stay away together seeing them get a tad closer to each other than some have liked.
One instance sees two of them wrestling in a field leading to a mock-sex act, causing the victim to panic and call his wife to drive all the way out into the wilderness so as to vividly reassure himself of one's heterosexuality. The individual decides to stay behind, after all; later on, around a campfire and picnic table at their piggish shenanigans give way to one of them performing what is effectively a striptease further imbuing proceedings. The equilibrium treads in perfect harmony with two young, promiscuous blonde girls of about sixteen in age intermingling with the wrong crowd and purveying their sexuality onto that of whatever or whomever they can; the idea of a group of people shifting into this newfound sense of sexual identity prominent between two widely disparate groups of people. The film is a project, I read, from a breakaway group of people with their own studio producing their own material; its vast disconnection from more familiarised methods of film-making, as well as its highly specific overall look, might suggest something ill at ease or somewhat outsider; but Involuntary is a film with the power to resonate with the viewer far more despite its approach – a film from people whose output I look forward to seeing more of.
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