Ok, readers, it’s time to cover a selection of films from Australia’s Scandinavian Film Festival, currently in my hometown of Adelaide, and running in various locations around the country until early August (check online to see if your town is still to come!). The first film on my schedule was the Swedish film Yarden (English title: The Yard) and it’s an…. interesting film. Interesting is definitely the adjective I’d use.
The film follows a failed writer, who is dropped by his publisher after criticizing his own book to the media (“Why would you do that?” “It was a shit book”). After he tries to self-publish a book of poems, and only sells 5 copies, the writer is forced to make ends meet by taking a job in a car yard. The man remains unnamed throughout the entire film, instead going only by his workplace ID number – 11811. 11811 continues to suffer hardships as he tries to make ends meet for himself and his teenaged son, while various misfortunes hit his wallet.
It’s a film that is incredibly intimate in its concept, but that doesn’t mean the film is set up for success. In many instances, the best films are these intimate stories with low stakes but high drama regardless. This is not one of those instances, however. It has this feel that the movie was a really good concept that the filmmaker (Mans Mansson, who according to his IMDb page is best known for work as a documentary filmmaker and as a cinematographer) had no idea what to do with, resulting in a film that is merely “there”.
“Dammit, that’ll do”
There are a few things that I can point out in particular that disappointed me, and we’ll get to them because the negative stuff is always so much fun, but I’ll start off with a positive point. The portrayal of 11811, by a Swedish theatre actor Anders Mossling, was a powerful one, with small flourishes able to paint a large picture about what this quiet man is all about, despite the majority of his actual dialogue being about his bank account. So huge props to him.
But let’s start with another portrayal – that of 11811’s son. The kid was annoying, from his introduction where he was whingeing that his weekly allowance was down from 232 euros to 200 (which apparently isn’t enough to catch the bus. I don’t know where he was trying to catch the bus to – Beijing I suppose) to later complaining because the repo man touched his things. This long haired lout, whose actor I can’t find on the Internet, but I’m assuming was Animal from The Muppets, spent the entire run time being a pain-in-the-ass, and not a compelling one.
“Allowance! Allowance! Allowance! Ah-ha-ha-ha!”
–Kid from Yarden
Secondly, the pace of the film was way too slow for the payoff. A slow build type of film is always welcome in my mind, because the tension and the anticipation means that the climax hits with an almighty bang. Take Drive, for example. The Ryan Gosling movie was incredibly slow, but it eventually reached a peak and the pay-off was extraordinary. This movie is like the slow build-up of drive, and then the film ends. There’s no pay-off, there’s no reason to have sat through the build up in the first place.
Thirdly, and this is minor, there are threads that have been made to be a big deal (for example, 11811 is shown to enjoy diving, with many long shots of him going for a swim, or practicing his breathing through the apparatus). The pay off for this? He sells his diving equipment for money in one scene. Wahoo, glad we got to see that.
In the end, this movie wasn’t fantastic. It had some promise, but it never really delivered.
2.5/5 – a boring and middling film.