Sweden, 1943: six months in the life of 15-year-old Stig (Bo's son Johan Widerberg), who's come to the attention of his wispily carnal teacher Viola (Lagercrantz). She's dissatisfied with her salesman husband Frank (von Brömssen), and an affair duly begins. At first, Stig thinks Frank's the enemy; as it turns out, however, Viola's the one to watch. All starts well enough. Shot with mouth-watering crispness, the early scenes between Viola and Stig are tinglingly erotic and oddly authentic. Von Brömssen, too, is wonderful as a man so full of tears and alcohol he's all but leaking. But what next? Writer/director Widerberg's baffled. In the baggiest of second halves, he plies us with bland new characters and increasingly wordy monologues, labouring at humour like a tired man with a shovel. He even has a go at war, reducing real-life horrors to winsome marginalia. Stig himself is too good to be interesting, while Viola proves far too bad. And so, as dappled light plays on yet another of her silky suspender-belts and a crashing concerto swells for the umpteenth time, you find yourself stiff with indifference.
Cast and crew
Tomas von Brömssen