The Summer House (SOMMARSTÄLLET)
What do you get when you stick an old group of friends together in a modest summer-house, on an island off Gothenburg, during the last weekend of Summer…
The film follows Stina as she arrives back home from London to join old friends and family to celebrate the birthday of Carl, her handsome, charming cousin and father-to-be.
Things start off on uneven ground, when Stina’s long-term English boyfriend Nick calls to say he’s been held up back in London, and so goes the first warning that their tempestuous relationship may not survive the weekend. But soon enough she finds solace in Carl, who quite literally comes to her rescue and drives her to the summer-house where they spent childhood holidays. There we meet Carl’s pregnant partner and Stina’s goofy brother, and a few of their close and mutual friends.
When Nick does finally arrive he’s less than pleased to see Stina already three sheets to the wind, and to make things more awkward, he can’t understand a word of Swedish and spends much of the picturesque holiday unable to engage in conversation and vying for Stina’s attention. Things go from bad to worse when the party kicks into full swing the next evening and a heavy flow of music, booze and the great outdoors makes for a toxic mix, and threatens to break apart a few relationships along the way.
This isn’t the isolated, clipped dialogue we’re used to from the recent spate of dark Swedish crime dramas such as Wallander, The Killing or The Bridge – this atmosphere is more akin to a french or US indie full of improvised conversation, and pretty young things smoking too much and drinking like they’re playing ‘grown ups’. However it doesn’t take long for that trademark dark assessment of human interaction, that the Swedes are so good at, to follow. Slowly,i’m slowly it happens, we see controversial bonds happen and are forced to wait for it to play out, but it’s captivating and sinister at the same time.
Visually this film is so beautifully set up and painfully cool bordering on hipsterdom… or at least a worthy instagram post. Attractive leads creating a mess of their lives is something I’m not averse to seeing on UK telly, but this is less vapid. The characters playing friends even feels plausible; there’s no happy ending or satisfying resolve but there is a sense that the director wanted to get an honest depiction of relationships in a self-conscious self involved world – regardless of the filter plastered on it, the reality is a lot more unfocused and less desirable.
Directed by Johan von Reybekiel, Marcus Werner Hed. With Sara Blomqvist, Kalle Josephson, Ania Chorabik, Nanna Blondell.
Official selection for Raindance Film Festival 2013: