Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

This is the story of wallpaper. And being married for 65 years.

It’s not really about being hitched for over six decades, although Hans and Kerstin have. They don’t go through their scrap book and remember the romantic years, or any of that gush. The film opens with Hans in the outside privy, playing his trumpet. They are up at the house on the lake. This is Sweden, not Canada.

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Hans is The Man. He likes to make the decisions. When he feels like jitterbugging to a jazz record, Kerstin goes along with him. She’s a saint. She understands him so well, she can slip around and through if she wants to do something a little different and he doesn’t notice. Hans is a good man, but he’s bossy. And he’s loud. He laughs loudly. Kerstin smiles like China. You can’t tell what she’s thinking.

When it comes to the wallpaper for the main room, they can’t agree. Changes, changes, why? They talk themselves into thinking it will be an improvement. But which pattern? The young man in the shop is extremely patient. Finally Hans chooses the best one “to put an end to the discussion.” It is called Paradise and is a jungle scene, rich in blues and greens, impossibly difficult to match.

The hanging of Paradise is like a war. Hans is the general, Kerstin the batman, constantly shouted at and criticised. “I don’t trust her with much,” Hans confesses. “She’s too old.” And when she complains under her breath, he gives her a ticking off. “Don’t you swear! That’s my job.”

What binds them, even more than children and memories, is their sense of humour. The hanging of Paradise is only the beginning. When Kerstin’s friend, a lady of lesser years but more refined taste, takes one look at Paradise, she utters a bad word and Kerstin bursts out laughing. Together, they plan a counter attack on the general when he is away in town having his hair cut.

It would be hard not to enjoy the company of these two. They give marriage a good name. If you are having doubts about human nature’s mercurial ways, don’t ask too many questions. Let the love mature.

Reviewed on: 24 Jun 2008
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The story of wallpaper and marriage in a house on a lake in Sweden.

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Chris *

Director: Jerzy Sladkowski

Year: 2007

Runtime: 58 minutes

Country: Sweden


EIFF 2008

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