A tale of love and adolescence combines quite well with family drama in this film debut from Swedish filmmaker Roy Andersson.
During summer, 15-year old Pär spends his time hanging with friends, going to a local hangout, where he plays pinball; and ride his moped. His father works as an auto painter and his mother is a typical housewife as they live in a small area where the paint shop is located. During a visit to his hospitalized grandfather, Pär notices a 15-year old girl named Annika. He doesn’t talk to her, but it’s clear she notices him as well. For a while these two make eyes at each other, but are too shy to talk to each other until they finally talk at a dance, which ends kind of strange. However, thanks to a few friends, Pär and Annika finally start a relationship with each other.
Meanwhile, their family lives are not so great. Annika’s father John is a successful businessman who was given the business and as a result, lost his dream of being a pianist. Because of his hatred towards his job, he begins to take it out on his wife Elsa by constantly yelling at her. Lasse, Pär’s father, constantly worries about his father, who refuses to leave the hospital. It is clear that the adults because of their own issues think that Pär and Annika are just experiencing puppy love. However, for these two teens, it is more than that.
I have to admit, I have not seen any of Roy Andersson’s films so with this being my first experience with him, it is fitting that this would be the first film I would see because of the nature of his later films. Having just graduated from film school when he brought this film to screens, Andersson successfully brings a realistic view of life with a story that meshes young love with family drama. However, while other films from this genre tend to fantasize certain aspects in the story, Andersson makes the film more real than fantasy. It is like he directed the cast to pretty much just act natural.
The film’s driving factor are the two leads of the film, Ann-Sofie Kylin and Rolf Sohlman, as the teens Annika and Pär. They are typical teenagers who do what teenagers do. They go hanging out with friends, smoke cigarettes (and we do mean a lot), play pinball, and ride mopeds. It takes some time for these two to finally interact, but to Andersson’s credit, the build-up is well worth the wait. When we finally see them in a relationship, it is clear that these two characters truly act in a way expected from teenagers in love. We get this when Annika’s family go on a trip and Pär comes to the house and they eat sandwiches, play with a tape recorder. Their “love scene”, if you want to call it that, is done so tastefully that it is rendered harmless. Nothing controversial needed here.
The adults are another story and it is their issues that make them believe that Pär and Annika are just experiencing summer love and it won’t last. In the case of Annika’s father, he disapproves of Pär because of his upbringing and expects Annika to be rich like he was. However, it is John’s frustration with having to give up his dream to become a businessman that takes its toll on his marriage. Perhaps Annika sees Pär not only as someone she loves, but in her case, an escape from the harsh realities that she must constantly endure because of her father. It seems for the most part that Pär’s father Lasse and mother Gunhild seem a bit more open to the romance between the two, yet it seems more of just their son being a teenager that perhaps he doesn’t know the true meaning of love. However, judging from the chemistry, this can be said to be a depiction of true love.
A Swedish Love Story is a beautiful film that is driven not just by the two young leads, but Andersson’s realistic look at adolescence and the realities of life as a whole, yet show how love can sometimes overcome boundaries.
WFG RATING: A
A Europa Film Sweden production. Director: Roy Andersson. Producer: Ejnar Gunnerholm. Writer: Roy Andersson. Cinematography: Jörgen Persson. Editing: Kalle Boman.
Cast: Ann-Sofie Kylin, Rolf Sohlman, Anita Lindblom, Bertil Norström, Lennart Tellfelt, Margreth Weivers, Maud Backéus, Arne Andersson, Verner Edberg, Tommy Nilsson, Gunnar Ossiander.