Impressions of … A Swedish Love Story (Roy Andersson)

now this is a film, not a script with moving pictures

it would be difficult, I think, to have read the script and known what it would become, indeed, I doubt it would have been allowed to become anything by modern script editors: it doesn’t tell a proper story, or tell the story properly: a teen romance in which the climax – and the grandest, most coherent sequence – concerns the petty disputes of the desperate adult characters

Swedish Love Story

boy meets girl (or boy and girl meet, as neither is privileged by the narrative), boy and girl eventually get together (they’re shy teens), they sort of split up (they’re teens, there’s no good reason), and they get back together (more passionately now – and at this point, we discover she’s not yet fourteen), all this has some shape to it, but this shape is little more than an outline of hope pressed into the soft dysfunctional substance of adult life, they are surrounded by generations of confused, cynical, disconnected, and disappointed adults: these young lovers are star-crossed not because the adults present an obstacle to the young lovers – not for the duration of the film anyway, they barely get involved – but simply because, judging by these adults, love does not last, disappointment is as inevitable as death

the genius of the film is to affirm the young lovers regardless: this is why the climax need not directly concern the lovers, not its consequences be related explicitly to them

the staging won me over: understated yet teeming with life, events (story beats) are often embedded in larger scenes, with lots of incidental action, some accidental and included, some choreographed without being afforded any particular emphasis, the camera kept its distance, the visit to the relatives in the (psychiatric?) hospital grounds was a tour de force in this respect, amid the untidy, dutiful chaos of the visits the two teens spot each other, a wonderful dance of missed glances ensues, and they go their separate ways

this is substantial realism, rather than a cosmetic realism which provides a recognizable setting merely as a strategy to make its story more convincing, here the story floats on surface of the world and will eventually be dissolved by it

(incidentally, the film could be R-rated for cigarette smoking, teens lighting up in almost every scene, a realistic detail in 1970, no doubt, but something that would have been self-censored by UK filmmakers)

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