Scandinavian Film Festival Wrap


Scandinavian Film Festival 2014- Palace Verona & Norton Street Cinemas Sydney’ Wednesday 9 July – Sunday 27 July 2014

The Palace is to be applauded for this magnificent inaugural festival of 21 new Scandinavian films from Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and even Iceland. Having seen twenty-seven brand new films at the Sydney Film Festival (SFF) in June, I was impressed with the high quality of Scandinavian cinema. The Australian Film Industry, including state and feral (sic) governments, could learn a lot from the quality, diversity and funding mechanisms of the film industries in these highly progressive countries. In fact, I felt that one of the best three films at the Sydney FF this year was ‘In Order of Disappearance’ from Norway/Sweden/Denmark. Together with the Irish film ‘Calvary’ and the English film ‘Locke’, this trio provided a feast of extraordinary cinema delights.

The eight films I viewed over the past two weeks at the Scandinavian FF (Scandi FF) were all very good to excellent. Several will no doubt be remade by Hollywood (especially the EASY MONEY trilogy), since many Americans seem reluctant to see films from foreign cultures and to wrestle with sub-titles.

Below I have rated the eight films I saw at the Scandi FF and I have provided brief reviews for three of these films, including the remarkable EASY MONEY trilogy. A number of the films at the Scandi FF will receive a general theatrical release with Palace Cinemas. In fact, the excellent and gritty Danish crime drama ‘The Keeper of Lost Causes’ is about to open at the Palace Verona in Sydney – don’t miss it!

Someone You Love (Denmark) 5/5

Easy Money (Sweden) 4.5/5

Easy Money II (Sweden) 4/5

Easy Money III (Sweden) 4/5

The Keeper of Lost Causes (Denmark) 3.5/5

Hour of the Lynx (Denmark) 3.5/5

Heart of a Lion (Finland) 3.5/5

21 Ways to Ruin a Marriage (Finland) 3/5

Unfortunately, I didn’t see any of the films presented from Norway or Iceland.

SOMEONE YOU LOVE (En Du Elsker) drama [Denmark 2014]

Director Pernille Fischer

Cast Mikael Persbrandt (The Hobbit), Trine Dyrholm, Brigitte Hjort Sorensen, Sofus Ronnov.

This superb film deals with an intense life crisis and subsequent epiphany experienced by Thomas Jacob, a highly acclaimed and successful singer/songwriter (think Leonard Cohen) who is based in LA. He returns to his Danish homeland to record a new album and is confront by the child and grandchild he has abandoned and almost forgotten. Thomas is an emotionally frozen man who can only unlock his heart through his music. He treats everyone in his life badly, including his loyal and hard-working producer and manager. Faced with a child and a grandchild desperately in need of his love, he is reminded of how he was mistreated and rejected by his father and is forced to decide whether or not to accept love and give it in return. That sounds somewhat schmaltzy, but this film never sinks into the realms of emotional cliché and flows so smoothly and professionally that the powerful emotional and spiritual impacts to the heart and mind are unforgettable. The direction and acting are almost flawless, with the additional bonus of great music! Highly recommended, 5/5 stars.

EASY MONEY I, II, III (Snabba Cash) Crime drama [Sweden 2010, 2012, 2013]

Director Daniel Espinosa

Cast Joel Kinnaman, Matias Padin Varela, Dragomir Mrsic, Lisa Henni, Deja Cukic, Annika Whittembury, Lea Stojanov, Fares Fares.

The Easy Money trilogy presents a complex and riveting tale pursuing three stories involving a Swedish banker, a Serbian ‘Godfather’ and a Spanish gangster, together with their friends and lovers, who battle and collaborate to secure and maintain their power and wealth. This movie, and its two sequels, presents a thrilling, bloody and emotional rollercoaster ride through the fringes to the core of contemporary Swedish society. These grim films present their own moral, ‘people always look after themselves and their money before anyone or anything else’. This is a morality tale reminiscent of Macbeth, or even the more recent BBC and Netflix ‘House of Cards’ TV series. There are powerful and likable characters, double-crosses, triple-crosses and leaps backward and forward in time to confound and excite ‘The viewer. This is a cinema experience of epic proportions and it is as engrossing as the Godfather’ trilogy (well Part 3 wasn’t so good!) or ‘Heat’, with high production values, as well as excellent acting and direction, plus frequent and well-executed fast moving action, including a number of major set pieces depicting robberies and assassinations. There’s hardly a native blonde Swede to be seen in this film (apart from Joel Kinnaman from The Killing and Robocop), which is mostly populated by newer ethnic groups who have migrated to Sweden over the past twenty years, driven out of the Balkan Peninsula by civil war and Spain by economic collapse. I’m looking forward to Easy money IV! Highly recommended, 4.5/5 stars.

THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES (Kvinden I Buret) Crime Thriller [Denmark 2013]

Director Mikkel Norgaard

Cast Nikolaj Lie Kass, Fares Fares, Sonja Richter, Mikkel Bo Folsgaard.

This is a thrilling and likable buddy movie about two mismatched cops who are on a fast moving downward trajectory – until they realise ‘Department Q’, the depository of unsolved cases, may offer them salvation by saving others. Aloof and disgraced homicide detective Carl, who thrives on adrenaline and operates by intuition, is badly injured in a botched raid and is banished to Department Q by his boss. His assistant is an Arab and a rooky cop who is precise and friendly. This is not a match made in heaven. But the story is, and we are taken into the depths of a riveting unsolved case of a woman who apparently committed suicide and disappeared several years earlier. This unlikely duo are ordered to close at least three cases a week, but they spend their first few weeks unravelling the complex disappearance of this high profile female politician. This cold case quickly turns hot and the clock is ticking as this dynamic pair become partners and race to solve the case. Based upon a best-selling book, with screenplay by the same writer as ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, I can sense a sequel coming in the making! Recommended, 3.5/5 stars.