Monday, June 11, 2012

Euro 2012: Swedish Films

Entry #13 of the Euro 2012 Book & Film Spotlight looks at the two Swedish films.

Play (2011, Ruben Östlund)

Play uses a verite style to depict a real life bullying tactic used in Sweden to steal cell phones from kids. This technique didn’t use any physical force but instead utilized a good cop-bad cop method which accused the victims of carrying a stolen cellphone. Ruben Östlund mostly uses long shots to show the crimes taking place thereby giving an appearance that the audience is witness to the events unfolding in front of their eyes. Initially, the film focuses on the crime itself without trying to imply anything about race or economic conditions. This is true even when the bullies are given a rough time from rival gang members. However, race comes into the equation in the final 15-20 minutes when a few family members of the victims use force to retrieve their child’s cellphone back. The family members are adults and watching them fight with a young teenager over a phone raises alarm bells in passersby who accuse the family members of being bullies. This turn into racial territory gives the entire film a different feel and moves the issue away from bullying, something which is not related to race. As a result, the film misses an opportunity to look deeper at social and economic issues and instead is content to scratch the surface of the crime.

Everlasting Moments (2008, Jan Troell)

Maria (Maria Heiskanen) wins a camera in a lottery but never uses it. So she decides to sell it in order to get some money. However, the shopkeeper Sebastian (Jesper Christensen) demonstrates the camera’s potential to Maria. Sebastian tells Maria that he will buy the device from Maria but only after she has used the camera and understands what she is selling. The camera opens up Maria’s world and arouses a new passion in her. Her photography allows her to offset problems in her life and manages to raise her spirits.

Everlasting Moments wonderfully shows that no matter how tough a person’s life is, they will have the ability to get through it as long as they can find that one passion which gives them reason and strength to carry on.

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