[Film Review] A Swedish Love Story (1970)

A Swedish Love Story poster

English Title: A Swedish Love Story
Original Title: En kärlekshistoria
Year: 1970
Country: Sweden
Language: Swedish
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director/Writer: Roy Andersson
Music: Björn Isfält
Cinematography: Jörgen Persson
Cast:
Rolf Sohlman
Ann-Sofie Kylin
Anita Lindblom
Bertil Norström
Margreth Weivers
Lennart Tellfelt
Maud Beckéus
Björn Andrésen
Gunvor Tännérus
Lotta Wallin
Rating: 7.3/10

Swedish auteur Roy Andersson’s feature debut at the age of 27, who has only made 5 films so far (mainly due to a 25-year hiatus from 1975-2000 of directing feature film, he has made many shorts though during the spell), his latest work A PIGEON SAT ON A BRANCH REFLECTING ON EXISTENCE (2014), is a prestigious Golden Lion winner.

A SWEDISH LOVE STORY, centres on the puppy love between two teenagers Pär (Sohlman) and Annika (Kylin), and broaches tenderly their incipient sexual awakening. Set in the sun-drenched urban and sun-dappled rural Sweden, its colour scheme and raw warmth seem to contradict the typecast impression of Scandinavian landscape, a tinge of unusual-ness can be sensibly discovered through the non-existent narrative and its time-capsule pop references of the time: transistor radio, leather jackets, moped, smoking cigarettes (to emulate a sophisticated mien of adults), and pop songs aplenty. The intimacy and spontaneity between the two young leads suffice to induce a pleasant if to a certain extent, lackadaisical state of awareness. Ann-Sofie Kylin imbues her naturalistic pizzazz potently in her laconic register and feline appearance (her captivating blue eyes in particular), and Rolf Sohlman, not a conventionally handsome boy, but his gauche precociousness scintillates great chemistry with Kylin.

However, a tongue-in-cheek savour of Andersson’s shrewd perception of the contemporary society lies in the adulthood, Pär’s father Lasse (Tellfelt) is a working-class garage owner whereas Annika’s father John (Norström), is an ambitious refrigerator salesman, and the relationship between him and Annika’s mother Elsa (Weivers) is constantly under the strain. Another prominent character is Annika’s Auntie, Eva (Lindblom), a single woman, who has just been released from the convalescent hospital in the beginning and forever struck by a lugubrious melancholy since she cannot find any footing in real life.

The subplots of adults resolve half-heartedly around Pär and Annika’s growing affections, until the last act, the puppy love has been sidelined to a a dinner party with both families in the countryside house of Lasse, where cone-shaped paper hats and crayfish bibs are taking the center stage, the frictions of different views of the world inconveniently emerge, between the two patriarchs. A cynical and chagrined John bursts into a hysterical but also dead serious rant in the foggy morning and an impending tragedy seems to be in the offing. After reaching the emotional peak of despair and chaos, Andersson knowingly finishes off his confident debut with apparent levity but leaves behind an acrimonious taste of social critique which elevates the film above its central teenage affair, a sturdy and unique piece of work from an up-and-coming young filmmaker.

A Swedish Love Story 1970

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