Three Miles North Of Molkom

Three Miles North Of Molkom


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

In a sea of hard-hitting and, albeit it very important documentaries, it seems increasingly rare to come across one which tackles a subject not related to politics, pestilence or conflict. Three Miles North Of Molkom, then, comes as a pleasant surprise, putting its focus on the No Mind Festival in Angsbacka, Sweden - three miles north of Molkom and several miles south of normality.

The festival runs for two weeks and sees the participants getting in touch with their ‘inner selves’ through a series of activities including ‘sharing groups’ with random strangers, shamanic sweat lodges and tantric sex. Or, as less-than-willing Aussie participant Nick puts it “a bunch of tree-hugging”.

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Nick, a rugby coach by trade, is only attending because a pal suggested it and, in one of his matter-of-fact observations that come to punctuate the film, he says, early on: “I don’t now why I’m here at the moment.”

Like the audience, he is a stranger in a strange land. But if he hasn't got a handle on the hugging vibe, the rest of his sharing group have. Siddharta, every inch the Swedish Viking, is taking time off from his harbour master’s job and dreams of finding a woman... any woman; Mervi, a Finnish gran with poor health and a seemingly endless supply of personal issues; Peter, a former hard-drinking Swedish dad who is having second thoughts about his marriage; Ljus the epitome of all that is Californian hippy, who is constantly searching for his goddess (and generally has at least two or three of the earthly ones to hand on any occasion); and Marit, a wistful and dreamy Norwegian. They are even joined, briefly, by Swedish celeb, Regina Lund.

Corinna Vilari-McFarlane and Robert Cannan have an incredible amount of access. When the people at this festival say they are going to open up, they aren’t kidding and we are treated to the best of it, from the moments of heart-searching and surreality to touching gestures and glib remarks. The directors have an enviable lightness of touch and a serious eye for the cinematic. They also capture perfectly the absurdism of many of the situations while finding balance in moments of merit. We are invited to laugh at many of the actions and words of those involved, but there is never a sense mean-spiritedness.

As first-time directors – although both have worked in the industry for some time – they show incredible potential and it would be interesting to see them tackle a work of fiction, too. The only place where their inexperience shows is in the runtime, which is around 15 minutes too long. Fortunately, the point at which the film sags slightly is just after the half way mark, leaving plenty of time for a rollocking rebound of a finale, which though perhaps slightly predictable is nonetheless enjoyable.

Special mention must also be made of first-time cinematographer Joseph Russell who has perfectly captured the hazy, lazy days of summer to such an extent, you can almost taste the pollen in the air. The vibrant colours match the vibrant spirits and Russell is already so accomplished, one can’t help but get excited about where his career will lead.

This is a big screen film that deserves to be seen at the cinema, not confined to a box in the corner of the room. Go now, and don’t forget to hug a tree on the way.

Reviewed on: 21 Jun 2008
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Three Miles North Of Molkom packshot
Spiritual fulfilment meets simple-minded satisfaction in a clash of ideologies.

Director: Robert Cannan, Corinna Villari-McFarlane

Year: 2007

Runtime: 112 minutes

Country: UK

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