Stockholm (I) (2018)
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Writer-director Robert Budreau wisely wastes little time with setting the stage. Lars (Ethan Hawke) dons a disguise meant to trick the police, and storms the bank lobby armed with a sub-machine gun. Wearing a cowboy hat and a leather jacket with a Texas flag, he proclaims "Remember the Alamo" as he secures some hostages and presents himself as Kaj Hansson, a well-known criminal. Of course, Mr. Hawke is certainly an American, and the actual robbery/hostage event was conducted by a Swede.
Lars is loud and boisterous to the cops, while simultaneously being sympathetic and understanding to the hostages - especially Bianca (Noomi Rapace), a married woman with two kids. Christopher Heyerdahl plays Police Chief Mattison, and he employs some unexpected psychological gamesmanship with Lars that gets even more convoluted when Swedish Prime Minister Olaf Palme becomes involved. Lars' real goal here is to spring his buddy Gunnar Sorensson (Mark Strong) from jail and have them both ride off to freedom in a mustang like the one Steve McQueen drove in BULLITT.
Yes, I should mention that although guns are fired and hostages are held, this is really an offbeat comedic bank heist. It focuses on how the hostages bond with their captors and how Bianca quickly realizes that not only is she smarter than Lars and Gunnar, but that the cops are more of a threat to her than the criminals. She strategizes better than either side, and Ms. Rapace (from the original Millennium Trilogy) is the standout performer in the film.
Filmmaker Budreau and Mr. Hawke previously collaborated on an intimate look at jazz trumpeter Chet Baker in BORN TO BE BLUE (2015), and they prove again that they work well together. The other two hostages are played by Bea Santos as Clara and Mark Rendall as Elov. When Prime Minister Palme refuses to negotiate or allow Lars to leave with hostages, we can sense the emotional tide turn as Clara, Elov and Bianca realize they are safest remaining with the hostages.
Of course there are some liberties with history taken for cinematic reasons, and since most of the filming takes place within the confines of the bank, we do get to know each of the participants pretty well. The similarities to Sidney Lumet's DOG DAY AFTERNOON (1975) are unmistakable, and one of the reporters covering the story even comments that it's "almost like watching an American movie." The odd ending works for the film, and thanks to Ms. Rapace, there is enough heft to the characters to prevent the humor for taking over.
It doesn't pay to second guess Bianca Lind's (Noomi Rapace) falling for her abductor, Lars Nystrom (Ethan Hawke), in the real life 1973 heist/abduction that originated the descriptor, Stockholm Syndrome. Even as romantic as writer/director Robert Budreau makes the situation, no matter how crazy-charming he makes Lars, the situation, close to life or death, strains credulity.
Although the scene has been regularly described as "absurd" by officials and the media, Budreau and his first-rate actors create a reality that at the very least reminds me of Sidney Lumet's Dog Day Afternoon. Dog is another hostage situation at a bank with Sonny (Al Pacino) seeking funds for a sex change for his lover. Sounds absurd until you feel the human emotions involved; in Stockholm the sympathy flows between mother Bianca, with a weak husband, and the defiant but "soft" Lars.
Lars had been known to save a heart-attack victim at a heist and shows care for the hostages in the Stockholm bank. The two actors are so good, you can forgive his larceny and understand her attraction to him. It is by no means to exculpate Lars or to condemn the police for using gas-what else could they do?
No one would think that the cinematic setups of this heist are an accurate rendition of the Norrmalmstorg robbery, yet the heightened passions; Lars' motive to spring his bank robbery buddy, Gunnar (Mark Strong); and the imperfect strategies of Chief Mattsson (Christopher Heyerdahl) ring true in any situation. Stockholm is a stock situation riddled with humanity, and some light humor (see the bumbling husband), to make an eccentric spin on an old formula.
Enjoy the characters, and let your reality demands take a sideline.
Couple of comments: the term "Stockholm Syndrome" is well-known as referring to a situation where hostages become friendly to the hostage taker(s), but do you know the facts of the underlying hostage case? This movie seeks to finally give us the full story of what happened in Stockholm back in 1973. The movie is by Canadian writer-director Robert Budreau, who previously gave us the excellent Chet Baker bio-pic "Born To Be Blue", starring Ethan Hawke. They must've liked their collaboration as Budreau and Hawke reunite for this film, and to great effect. Hawke is outstanding as Kaj/Lars, with just the right amount of swagger and charm. Check out his obsessiveness over Bob Dylan (4 or 5 Dylan songs play throughout the movie). But even better is Noomi Rapace, who stars as Bianca, the bank staff person who comes across as the mousy wife/mother of two young children, but underestimate her at your own peril, as she is determined to live through this. (Even though the movie is set in Stockholm, and Rapace is a Swedish actress, she speaks English for this role.) Christopher Heyerdahl plays the police chief with great restraint and confidence in his negotiating skills. I frankly was transfixed throughout the movie, and yes, there are some absurd aspects to the real-life story, but by no means is the movie a "comedy" or even "comedy-drama" as billed on IMDb: this is a hostage drama, nothing less, nothing more.
"Stockholm" premiered at last year's Tribeca film festival, yes exactly a year ago. It finally received a limited theater release, and opened at my local theater the very same weekend as "Avengers Endgame" (which I have zero interest in seeing). Talk about counter-programming! The Friday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended just so-so (about 10 people), which is a darn shame. Hopefully this movie will find a wider audience as it is released on other platforms. Meanwhile if you are in the mood for a tense hostage drama or have always been curious about the underlying hostage case that provides the origin for the term "Stockholm Syndrome", or if you are simply a fan of Ethan Hawke or Noomi Rapace, you could do a lot worse than this movie. I'd readily suggest you check this out, be it in the theater (if you can), on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.
its hard for me to swallow, all these swedish and norwegian actors, gobbling english like a turkey on the loose, so im sorry to say i lost the ignition already from the start.the story are familliar to many, and could have been better told than this.
the grumpy old man awards just 5 stars for this flick.
Ethan Hawke is the solo robber at the beginning. But instead of grabbing the cash, he keeps a few hostages and demands the release of a prisoner (Mark Strong), among other terms. This goes on for a couple of days with more ups and downs and zany mishaps than one finds in any of Elmore Leonard's delightful comic caper novels or the movies they spawned. Not easy to do, unless you're the Marx Brothers. True to the premise, one of the hostages (Noomi Rapace, looking more prim and uptight than her norm) becomes the first to develop the symptoms. Another novelty is seeing the invariably-bald Strong sport a full head of lanky hair. Not his best look.
The film drags on a bit too long for the claustrophobic setting, as nearly every shot we see occurs within the bank. That cost it one of the potential stars, above. Hawke's edginess is amusing for a while, but grows tedious as he loses his cool over so many setbacks and complications. Even so, it's a generally amusing and entertaining diversion. Expect a fairly farcical variation on Dog Day Afternoon to watch it in the right frame of mind.
The soundtrack to this film is made up mostly of lesser known (to me at least) Dylan songs. They knew enough to keep it fair.y short, at around 90 minutes. They knew they weren't working on Gone with the Wind. I was also relieved that they didn't use that old dependable crutch, the almighty flashback. What backstory they needed they revealed in character dialogue.
So it is a pretty good movie - be suspicious of one star or ten star reviews with exclamation points or the words "best" or "worst" in them.
Budreau, feels like he is always under surveillance. Safe are his film and authentic, hallmarked his methods. The director, Robert Budreau is playing safe, which catches you with quite a surprise considering the theme of the film. The risks are emerged from left and right or even from the top- "NO GAS!"- and yet the survival instinct of this empathetic criminal keeps us at the brisk of our emotions. Nails get bitten away and the laughs turned into a jarring flat emotion that I could only describe as captivating or surprised or satisfied, I don't know exactly, maybe all of it packed and send under to the address, "entertainment".
And that is where the film should have sticked to, for as soon as it aims for something it cannot get hold off, the earned and built pyramid collapses brutally. Another missing puzzle is the key to the observation. A known and occurred event as such should have a better observer than a storyteller. And on the plus side, is the balance between comedy and drama which frankly I wasn't so sure about, going in on this film. And after experiencing it, I think it is those dead eyes of Ethan Hawke that whips you with excitement.
If they grow dead in a comic situation you find yourself giggling like a six year old, and if they find themselves dead when insulted for his capabilities or incapabilities, the drama conjures the screen. And as short lived and quirky this love track may feel like, Noomi Rapace surely carries it in her body language, forever. She, describing a recipe and having a melt down, defines the thin line that film walks throughout this so-called heist occurring in Stockholm, that turned out to be a work, a showcase of brave potent friendship, ready to jump out of the plane to save the day.