The title of this curious but enjoyable film is somewhat misleading, generating as it does the expectation of a bawdy, perhaps raunchy comedy. Indeed the alternative title given on IMDB of A Midsummer Comedy is more fitting, though it is not really much of a comedy either. That in itself is no particular criticism , since it seems to have few aspirations as an out and out comedy, preferring instead to find beats by turns awkward, moving, amusing and sweet. There are a few laugh out loud moments and they hit the spot, but it is much more a film about relationships and personal fulfillment than it is a film about sex, per se.
We are introduced to each of the characters with remarkable and impressive economy. Although it is an ensemble piece, it is a small ensemble with highly distinct and distinctive characters, making it very easy to keep track of who is who and what is going on for them. Back-stories are filled in, inter-locking relationships established and from the very outset there is clear sense of camaraderie among the characters, who you easily believe to be close friends of many years. Emil’s character is far and away the trickiest prospect, being the least sympathetic of them all. He seems to be unsure of who he is and what he wants and winds up upsetting pretty much everyone in a dinner-table set scene that leaves you squirming in discomfort. Anders does most of the heavy-lifting in terms of generating laughs, asking Emil repeatedly for a “donation” to enable his girlfriend to conceive and staggering around drunk for much of the final scene as convincingly as I have seen it played in a long while. Micke and his wife Katarina are a thoroughly convincing couple, he all panicky, jittery anxiety over the pending birth, she simply uncomfortable and wishing Micke would stop fussing around her.
As revelations unfold people are hurt, relationships fractured and tears fall. It is all very believable, avoiding cliché, histrionics and melodrama and instead presenting a neatly interwoven tale of normal life, relationships and difficulties. The unexpected and slightly jarring inclusion of Luke Perry (Beverley Hils 90210) as Sam eventually settles down and although his involvement in the film seems wholly unnecessary, it does not especially unsettle or unbalance it. A welcome “one year later” coda ties up the numerous loose ends in a convenient, slightly contrived manner, but it leaves you with a smile on your face, which is all that one can ask for from this sort of film.
Some of the subtitling is a little clumsy, including some very badly translated colloquialisms in places, as well as some out-and-out spelling mistakes but the script is for the most part realistic, if a little profane. The direction by Ian McCrudden is unobtrusive, with a few nice shots of the lake and surrounding vistas, but otherwise functionally following the cast through the various scenes. This is not a film that will change the world, but it is heartfelt and enjoyable and deserves to be seen. Try to get past the potential embarrassment of people thinking you are renting something a bit pervy, it is really nothing like that at all. It is out in the UK to buy on DVD now and you can rent it from Lovefilm here.
Extras: Just a director’s interview, which is really just a couple of minutes of trailer footage, interspersed with the director saying how happy he was to have been able to make the film. Unlikely to be the deciding factor in you seeing the film.