Film, Drama
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A middle-aged party host unwisely soldiers on after a fireworks accident. A teacher sees her colleague transgressing and dares to mention it in the staff room. A coach stops in the middle of nowhere after some passenger infraction. The drunken horseplay of teenage girls goes too far. What can it all mean? This Swedish drama cuts between a series of discrete micro-dramas, whose only apparent connection is the film’s title. Presumably, we’re being asked to assess just what it is that motivates these shambling individuals.

At first glance, this seems a slightly amorphous conceit, but director Ruben Östlund’s single-shot scenes supply their own beady-eyed concentration, encouraging us to work a bit more. Little by little, it becomes clear the vignettes are chosen to illustrate the fault lines in everyday behaviour. We might think we act out of moral conviction or codes of social propriety, but at what point does peer pressure exert an undue influence? And how to explain spontaneity or just rank stupidity? The staging and acting are utterly believable, encouraging the viewer to put themselves inside each dilemma, yet the characters’ heat-of-the-moment choices also outline the filmmaker’s view of Swedish society – viewed as a matrix of smug self-interest and unthinking consensus. Does he mean us too? That Östlund achieves this without resorting to the shocks or embittered misanthropy of a Lars von Trier or an Ulrich Seidl is impressive. His film is the product of tough-love, arresting, unexpected and worth your time.

By: Trevor Johnston


Release details

Duration: 98 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Ruben Östlund
Screenwriter: Ruben Östlund, Erik Hemmendorff
Cast: Leif Edlund
Maria Lundqvist
Cecilia Milocco
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