Thursday, 4 December 2008


Directed by Johan Brisinger
Written by Johan Brisinger and Mikael Bengtsson

Complicated relationships are explored in this beautifully paced drama, in which a father and his oldest son must cope with the sudden loss of half their family.

We are briefly introduced to the family of four before the car crash which claims the lives of the mother and youngest son.  The accident is not dwelled on, but serves as a buffer between the bustling normality of that morning and the severe contrast we discover nearly a year later.

Seventeen year old Jonas has been left scarred and limping, and exists in shadowy isolation, unable to talk to his father – or anyone else.  Lars is physically healthy, but cannot cope with his grief and refuses to speak about the missing members of the family.

After a transparent suicide attempt, the two journey to their family’s summer house on an island off the Swedish coast.  Slowly beginning to interact with members of the community, Lars and Jonas make separate, sometimes shocking, attempts to heal and become a functioning unit once more.

So far, so melodramatic – but Suddenly (Underbara Älskade) easily avoids the trap of sentimentality.  The film has a poetic feel, and the stunning Swedish scenery and quality acting lift it above the ordinary.  Michael Nyqvist, a veteran of Swedish cinema, delivers a note perfect performance, managing to make us care for Lars even at his self-destructive worst.  The expressive Anastasios Soulis, a young actor of Finnish and Greek heritage (reportedly fluent in Swedish, Finnish, Greek and English!) is an absolute gem as Jonas, who talks tough but can’t hide the hurt in his eyes.

Honest and highly watchable, the film remained in the top ten at the Swedish Box Office for fifteen weeks, and received people’s choice awards at several European film festivals – with good reason.

This review was originally written for an online magazine, and is republished with permission.

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