Reviewed by: Jane Fae

"This film is not afraid to take the piss out of itself. Probably."

A rabbit that's riled up and toting a rifle
Queer boy gives blow jobs (for this he is grateful)
Woman who's trans deconstructing the system
Reading the tarot, engaging with sexism

Women and queers they do what they cancan
Dancing the dance of the bored with the sad man
White liberal feminists, talking and talking
While anarchists sing about class traitor spanking

Which quite incidentally is what boy must take
Before Lilith will help his poor mum to escape
Those bastards who down at the Job Centre mock
Any person unwaged or still looking for work.

Let's kidnap the bastards, let loose the zoo
Let Anarchy rule, it's the least we can do!

So? You've never encountered a verse review before? Maybe not. Equally, though, I'd wager you've never encountered a film quite like Folkbildningsterror before, either. (Literally “Popular education terror”, though I'm inclined to translate that as “The People's Terror”, which may not be strictly accurate, but seems to capture the spirit of the thing.)

Because it's comedy, fantasy, musical all rolled into one messy silly putty splodge with dead sharp anarch-analysis on top. Or is it? There is much deconstruction of the neoliberal state here, accompanied by a plot in which our heroes – naïve queer boy Theo, trans woman Kleopatra, and the gun-toting rabbit – all keep on keeping on while fucking up the system joyously. Lyrics like “You're boring and offensive, barely comprehensive. We don't want you here. We've fucking had it up to here.” (in response to a misogynist male singer).

Or “Ideologues to the guillotine! Their heads will be bouncing tonight”. (Trust me: it sounds much better when sung and in Swedish)

There is plot, too. Theo is worried about what will happen if the state takes away his mother's disability benefit and forces her to work: hence the take-down – via black magic - of the local Labour exchange adviser. The rabbit? Well, he mostly just wants to set free the animals down at the local zoo, to which end, he recruits a revolutionary cadre and sets off to release them.

And the trans woman? Well, she is just Trouble!

She is also the best dressed person on the screen, as she effortlessly plucks outfit after outfit from one small case that ought to contain one modest dress and a pair of shoes, but shares with the Tardis and Mary Poppins' carpet bag the ability to hold an entire wardrobe.

But this film is not afraid to take the piss out of itself. Probably. Unless it is so serious that it has eaten its own event horizon and is even now chasing its tail in ever-decreasing circles, round and round and round until... it eliminates itself in one last act of petty bourgeois desperation.

Did that woman really opine “to say that men are animals is not acceptable from an animal rights perspective”?

Did the rabbit truly object to being called an “animal-identified post-humanist”?

Did Kleopatra actually apologise for her rude attempt to define the rabbit “in any way”?

Yes they did – and there are plenty more absurdist one-liners where those come from. Though my favourite? “I want to emphatically suggest that we do as in all the radical terror cells which I've been a member of: in order to break the symbolic connection between masculinity and power, everyone carrying a gun must wear a dress”

An EU grant to fund the coming struggle? Radical resistance fare-dodging: “we're freeing all trams”? Shall we kidnap the Immigration Minister? The zombie sisterhood? Yes, yes, yes and yes!

It helps, if you are planning to watch this film, that you have at least a basic grounding in queer, feminist, anarchist politics circa 2017. Without that, you will likely find it either incomprehensible or very, very annoying. Once past that hurdle, it still seems an evens bet that you will either love or hate this film.

I....loved it.

Reviewed on: 02 Oct 2017
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A queer anarchist punk musical about kidnapping a politician and taking him to the zoo.

Director: Lasse Langstrom

Year: 2014

Runtime: 120 minutes

Country: Sweden


SQIFF 2017

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