There’s enough humour and ‘70s romantic schmaltz in Andersson’s first feature to make it a pleasing slice-of-life experience.
Dir. Roy Andersson
1970 | Sweden | Drama/Romance | 115 mins | 1.66:1 | Swedish & Spanish
PG13 (passed clean) for a scene of intimacy
Cast: Ann-Sofie Kylin, Rolf Sohlman, Anita Lindblom
Plot: Two teenagers fall in love over the summer, in spite of cynical and disapproving adults who dismiss their relationship as being nothing but young love.
Awards: Won IWG Golden Plaque, Interfilm Award, Journalists’ Special Award, UNICRIT Award & Nom. for Golden Bear (Berlin)
International Sales: Coproduction Office
Subject Matter: Moderate
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse
Viewed: The Projector – Swedish Film Festival
First Published: 25 Mar 2017
Roy Andersson broke into the international filmmaking scene with his first feature, A Swedish Love Story, which nabbed four awards at the Berlin International Film Festival, proving that there’s more to Swedish cinema than just Ingmar Bergman.
Four years earlier, Jan Troell also won awards at the same festival with Here Is Your Life (1966), and followed up with the Golden Berlin Bear winner Ole dole doff (1968).
Taking the emergence of Troell and Andersson during this time when Bergman was making such films as Persona (1966), Hour of the Wolf (1968), Shame (1968), The Passion of Anna (1969) and Cries and Whispers (1972), one would be hard-pressed not to find a cinephile excited about Swedish cinema then.
A Swedish Love Story sees Ann-Sofie Kylin and Rolf Sohlman, both actors making their acting debut playing Annika and Par respectively, two teenagers who fall in love in a love-at-first-sight scenario.
In the first major sequence involving the gathering of families, we begin to marvel at Andersson’s ability to create boisterous interaction while maintaining a series of quiet, fleeting glances between the two leads that hint of romantic attraction.
It is this interplay between the loud-chaotic and the silent-bliss that gives the film a sense of anticipation, perhaps even of tension. Annika and Par, lovebirds as they are, operate in a real world of teenage delinquency, but their love for each other gives them emotional support (when their own parents provide none).
There’s enough humour and ‘70s romantic schmaltz to make A Swedish Love Story a pleasing slice-of-life experience. The drama is raw and saccharine at the same time.
Backed by a light guitar-and-bass score that nostalgises the period’s coming-of-age sensibility (somewhat achieving a tonal effect similar to the use of ‘The Sound of Silence’ in The Graduate (1967)), Andersson’s film is about adolescents becoming adults and carving a world for themselves.
The irony is that the adults in the film are either socially awkward or psychologically volatile, a foreshadowing of what is to come for Annika and Par should they lose patience in the purity of their love.
The climax (which I will keep mum) is bewildering—it is dead serious if incredibly hilarious, and comes full circle through the loud-chaotic, silent-bliss mould. Might I also say that Ann-Sofie Kylin is so pretty and has huge blue eyes you can’t look away from…