Internationally Sweden is seen as a perfect society, a role model and a symbol of the highest achievements of human progress. The Swedish Theory of Love digs into the true nature of Swedish...
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Internationally Sweden is seen as a perfect society, a role model and a symbol of the highest achievements of human progress. The Swedish Theory of Love digs into the true nature of Swedish life style, explores the existential black holes of a society that has created the most autonomous people in the world.Written by
I Just saw this documentary at IDFA in Amsterdam. I am as disappointed afterwards as intrigued as I was beforehand. This movie never really touches anything at all. To my mind it is vague, general, never precise, never dramatic, countless statistics and sad anecdotes notwithstanding; it shows stories of people lying deceased in their houses for years on end without anybody noticing (worth a full feature documentary of itself; then would it have gotten somewhere!); but it does nothing at all with this sad fact but pointing to it as a fact. We already know this happens. But I would like to see what a filmmaker makes of it, more than pointing out the existence of the fact.
It makes a trip to (I believe) Ethiopia to show the so-called opposite of Western countries, telling how people there take care of each other. But again, it does nothing more than point out the fact. It even just tells it, in voice over, or 'talking head'. I would love to be shown exactly, and deeply, how these things work, and how they are so different from what happens in Sweden. Don't just film a bunch of strangers carrying a friend to a hospital with a voice over doing the rest of the work.
It shows countless people alone in Sweden; on escalators, running through a forest, in the subway, etc. To me, it seemed to do all this without any clear idea of what it was trying to say. This is a movie not first about people, but about a subject, a subject having been chosen beforehand. That is what, to me, gives it its feel of being very general, and gratuitousness, about nothing and no-one in particular.
While this may be a matter of taste, I like to see it the other way around; you make a movie about someone, and it automatically will be about a subject too. The movie makes trips around Sweden and around the world that are gratuitous to the extent of annoyance: we see guys masturbating in a sperm-bank and we actually see sperm cells (somehow needed to tell something about family planning of single mothers that want to remain single), and that is supposed to be funny. But somehow, here it seemed to be out of place. I did not long for a comic or absurd note at all. We get a full blown view on the tumor in a girl's tongue in Ethiopia. Why? What did that contribute to anything? Most annoying of all was the part where this Swedish surgeon based in Ethiopia shows with what kinds of things he manages to operate (household stuff, wheel spokes). This got the audience laughing like hell, and in another context it would have gotten me too – but here it did not attribute anything to the investigation on loneliness whatsoever. I guess it had something to do with perfect organization in Sweden at the cost of having to improvise or something, but to my mind the movie did not do a great job of showing how that is shocking, dramatic, sad, or even interesting. It was a vague suggestion to the difference in lifestyles, and somehow this was related to loneliness too.
Also: once again I was reminded of the fact that arty documentaries can in fact use the same dramatic instruments as Hollywood movies: when it's sad, you hear sad music. When its threatening, you hear sound of threat.
I was about to stand up and leave, when darling and hero Zygmunt Bauman entered the stage. I listened to him respectfully and that was that.
Btw: I really liked Videocracy, so this was a big disappointment. Please come back and make a story about a particular someone, or someplace, and stick with it for 90 minutes. Try and take a closer at a subject instead of quickly flying over a landscape of generalities and anecdotes, of which it is unclear what they contribute precisely, and could have been a full blown docu all by themselves. The depth it will bring you will pay you back, I promise. And: there is no faster way to kill a story than to know what it is about beforehand (one of the Pixar rules of storytelling;-) ). That way it will never surprise you, because it will be caged from the beginning.
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