This week we’ll be talking Swedes, and I don’t mean that we’ll be conversational root vegetables. If Sweden put even half as much effort into producing its films as it does its women, then they would still be excellent films.
Crass puns and unnecessary stereotyping out of the way, I can make the admission that I am a self-professed Swedephile: the music, the politics, the people, Ikea, and most importantly – the film. Swedish cinema is unique in that it seems to have an unrelenting fascination with the intricacies of human life, and has mastered the art of capturing them.
Lilya 4-ever (Lilja 4-ever) 2002
We follow and grow to care deeply about Lilya, a 16-year old girl growing up in poverty in Russia. Exploring themes of abandonment, drugs, prostitution and trafficking, Lilya 4-ever is a film that lingers and haunts the watcher long after it has been seen.
Let The Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in) 2008
“It’s everything Twilight wanted to be but wasn’t: beautiful to gaze at, achingly romantic, emotionally involving, unexpectedly terrifying.” – Daily Telegraph
This review pretty much sums it up and is possibly the only vampire film that I have ever fallen in love with. The 2010 American remake Let Me In is definitely one of the better remakes, but is still not a patch on the original.
Kitchen Stories (Salmer fra kjøkkenet) 2003
Kitchen Stories follows the social experiments of the 50s and uses them as a medium to make a commentary on friendship, modern living, loneliness and bureaucracy.
Screwed In Tallin (Torsk På Tallinn – En Liten Film Om Ensamhet) 1999
A hilarious and tragic mockumentary showing a group of lonely men as they take a coach trip to Estonia, in search of love and sex. The characters are all incredibly well-written and acted. At a mere 59 minutes this made-for-TV film punches far above its weight.
Show Me Love (Fucking Åmål) 1998
A touching coming-of-age drama exploring life and relationships in the “most boring town on earth”. Also, lesbians.
A Swedish Love Story (En Kärlekshistoria) 1970
We see the isolated joy of a young romance against the backdrop of a miserable adult world. The youthful love is sweet, and the weariness of the “real world” is honest. The rest of the world appears to cast off the love as naïve, but from the viewer’s perspective we can see it as the real thing.
Songs From The Second Floor (Sånger Från Andra Våningen) 2000
Songs From The Second Floor gives us poetry, manifested in film. Surreal and packed full of symbolism and black humour, this is a visual feast and an intense experience.
Together (Tillsammans) 2000
This comedy drama explores the ups-and-downs of mankind through a 70s hippy commune in Stockholm: relaxed, intimate and observant.
Festen (The Celebration) 1998
This realistic black comedy drama is so good that it has made it onto this list of Swedish films, despite its Danish origin (Most of the world doesn’t know the difference, anyway). The film begins with the arrival of guests to a gathering of extended family, and ends the morning after. Gritty and hard-hitting, this is another film that will stay with you.
The Idiots (Idioterne) 1998
Also Danish (and also, like the previous film, shot using the rules of Dogme 95), this Lars von Trier comedy drama is full of mischief and provokes the norms of society with vigour.
So there you have it, ten motion picture meatballs for you to feast your ears and eyes upon. Seen a film that you think should belong on this list? Let us know!
If you want to know more about Swedish film, you may as well hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.