Reviewed by: Paul Griffiths

Kim (Magnus Skog) has done time and now just wants a steady job and to live in a proper house with his girlfriend. Across town, Susanne (Sofie Karlsson) also wants to earn some money and so is preparing for a pole-dancing audition. Kim’s friend Jesper (Stefan Söderberg) lives in an old bus and scrapes together the land rent by selling himself to men over the web. Meanwhile, teenager Ylva (Emelie Sundelin) is struggling with her burgeoning sexuality in spite of her oppressively, austerely religious parents.

Savage stalks the estates and rural backwaters of a small Swedish town as these four stories smartly wind together. The unrelenting poverty trap of the underclasses that is exposed is no barrel of laughs, but this low-budget indie provides some compelling performances and insights.

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Co-directors Martin Jern and Emil Larsson’s opening scenes set an ominous tone and presage the darkness that slowly starts to encroach. Their assured direction and sparing script is served excellently by the leading quartet who all deliver persuasive and nuanced character turns. They’re affectingly flawed individuals trying to survive by making the best and damaged decisions they can.

Their frustration at spinning on the spot is palpable. You root for their slivers of hope, feel their anger at the prejudices they face and cannot avoid the depressing fait accompli that seems to hang over them. Apparently the cast and bare bones crew bunked together in a cottage and tent during the shoot. A financial necessity perhaps, yet the actors seem to have developed from it an informality and guilelessness that belies their inexperience.

The grim finale is fairly jarring. Unfortunately, a large part of this is because the measured build up doesn’t quite justify the brutal, explosive violence. Such action does, however, reinforce the bleak societal allegory that some candid imagery sets up early on. This is far removed from those Stieg Larsson mega-hit adaptations, but it peels back that Swedish veneer with the same caustic resolve.

Reviewed on: 09 Oct 2011
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Kim grew up in a criminal family in the Swedish countryside. He now wants to make up for his crimes but can he escape his past?
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Director: Martin Jern, Emil Larsson

Writer: Martin Jern, Emil Larsson

Starring: Magnus Skog, Emelie Sundelin, Stefan Sderberg

Year: 2011

Runtime: 82 minutes

Country: Sweden


Raindance 2011

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