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Farväl Falkenberg (2006)
One of the best Swedish films ever
IMO, this film is just as impressive as the hype suggested, and not only the highlight of 2006, but also an instant classic and one of the best Swedish films ever made. It's different from so much of today's cinema, but in the best possible way. The main focus is on capturing a feeling, a sensation, rather than traditional plot development, and newcomer Jesper Ganslandt has pulled this off very well.
It centers around five 20-something childhood friends, their special bond with each other and their somewhat complex feelings about their hometown, the small seaside town of Falkenberg, on the Swedish west coast. As they spend their last summer together, drifting around and philosophizing, they try desperately to forget about the harsh reality that is just around the corner.
Faced with the prospect of having to move out, find jobs, conform to formalities, and eventually end up with the monotonous 9-to-5 life of their parents, they try to live completely in the moment and make the most of what's left. But as things take an unexpected turn, the end of summer comes to mean the end of something much more profound, which affects everyone in the group.
The film has a very realistic feel to it, underscored by the dialog,the unknown actors, the real-life locations and technicalities like hand-held camera. At the same time, the tone is often dream-like, not unlike Sofia Coppola's "Virgin Suicides", with a beautiful melancholy in images and music, and a slower pace that gives you rime to reflect.
What makes this film a winner is that it really gets under your skin and makes you care about the characters, as well as the intensity that draws you in and keeps you emotionally engaged. It also shows male friendship is very natural, yet utterly affecting way, which I think is a rare quality in contemporary film and quite a relief from all the stereotypes and clichéd alpha males.
To fully appreciate "Farväl Falkenberg" you'd probably have to be Swedish or have lived here for some time, as the scenery and everyday interactions of the small town environment gives the film much of its atmosphere, and part of its impact is the feeling of recognition. The essence of it, however - the emotional and psychological themes - is much more universal.